Gay Marriage Through the Back Door

2 back doors 1 bush.

In 2007, the Court of Appeals in Maryland upheld a law that declares “[o]nly a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State.”  The decision in Conaway v. Deane effectively closed the door on gay marriage in Maryland.

But there is some promising news.  Maryland is considering whether to legalize gay marriage through the back door.  The Baltimore Sun reports that

State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler is working on a much-anticipated opinion on whether same-sex unions performed in other states should be recognized in Maryland. The opinion is expected any week now, and opponents of gay marriage fear Gansler will rule that they should be honored [in Maryland].

An opinion stating that out-of-state gay marriage licences must be recognized would be based under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.  And if this happens, Maryland would be one of the first states to recognize gay marriages using this approach.

Once issued, the AG’s opinion will serve as guidance for state judges when gay couples with out-of-state marriage licences seek marriage equality in Maryland.  And an AG’s opinion stating that Maryland must recognize out-of-state gay marriages would immediately require state agencies to extend equal rights to married gay couples.

Although gay marriage is not allowed in most states, “[i]n the past year, three states and the District of Columbia have changed their rules to allow same-sex marriages, bringing to six the number of places gay couples can go to marry.”  It should be noted though that “in roughly the same time period, four other states including New York have either rejected or undone gay marriage statutes.”  [Source]

Opponents to gay marriage are outraged that the Maryland AG’s opinion may give equal rights to gay marriages in Maryland.  These opponents view the AG’s approach as an assault on marriage from the rear.

Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns, D-Baltimore County, fears that access through the back door could be imminent:

“The issue is knocking on our doors,” Burns said. “People will be flying over here, wanting to force us to accept their marriage licenses.”

“Our back door is open, and it needs to be closed.”  [Source]

Delegate Burns introduced legislation, which if approved would have denied reciprocity to same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.  He had hoped to preempt the need for the Maryland AG’s opinion.  But on Wednesday, members of the Maryland House committee rejected Delegate Burns’s bill.

So, there is still a chance that gay marriages may be recognized in Maryland.

Siouxsie thinks this is great and, unlike Delegate Burns, hopes that Maryland will prop its back-door wide open.

Bonus Track:

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~ by siouxsielaw on February 6, 2010.

One Response to “Gay Marriage Through the Back Door”

  1. […] — Maryland Opens Its Backdoor to Gay Marriage Remember you read it here first (or the Baltimore Sun or the Washington […]

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