Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
February 24, 2010
C.W. Hardy and Kevin-Douglas Olive display their opinions during a gathering at First Unitarian Church in Baltimore of those who cheered the state attorney general's opinion that Maryland should legally recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released a long-awaited opinion Feb. 24, drawing cheers from gay-rights supporters and igniting immediate debate on a highly contentious issue in an election year.
With the ruling, state agencies will be required to extend all benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy to married gay couples. These could include health insurance expansion, spousal legal immunities, property rights, the ability to file wrongful-death suits and perhaps some tax benefits, experts said."There is no law in Maryland that says we don't recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples," Gansler said. "Based on the law and the state of the law in Maryland and the Constitution of the United States, this is what the law is."
The ruling does not enable same-sex couples to wed here, as neighboring Washington recently decided to allow starting next week. Five states and a handful of foreign countries issue marriage certificates to gay couples. In Maryland, gay couples can register as domestic partners, which affords them some, but not all, of the rights that come with marriage.
Gansler's ruling does not carry the weight of law but is meant to guide judges and state agencies.