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Maryland AG releases opinion on same-sex marriage licenses

The office of the Maryland Attorney General [official website] released an opinion [text, PDF] Thursday stating that same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses as soon as Governor Martin O'Malley [official profile] formally proclaims the results of this month's election, which he is expected to do next week. Attorney General Douglas Gansler's opinion came in response to questions from circuit court clerks around the state in the wake of referendum approval earlier this month. The opinion dictates that Maryland court clerks can begin accepting applications for same-sex marriages immediately and issue them as soon a December 6, as long as they specify that the licenses do not take effect until January 1, 2013. In addition, in regard to couples who have civil unions in other states, Gansler wrote, "In the absence of statutory language prohibiting the issuance of a marriage license to a couple who has entered into a civil union in another state, we see no obstacle to the issuance of a license in such situations."

Maryland is one of three states, including Maine and Washington [JURIST reports] to legalize same-sex marriage this November, and the ninth state overall, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports]. In the same election Minnesota voters struck down a ballot initiative that would have outlawed same-sex marriage in the state. The Maryland electorate voted to legalize same-sex marriage, upholding the Civil Marriage Protection Act [official act, PDF] by a slim margin earlier this month. The law was originally signed [JURIST report] by Governor O'Malley in March, however The Maryland Board of Elections [official website] had officially certified[certification notice, PDF] a referendum petition in July seeking to challenge the law [JURIST report] in the recent election. The law will take effect on January 1, 2013.

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