Same-Sex Marriage


Same Sex Marriage


Maryland does not currently perform same-sex marriage. In 2004, supporters of same-sex marriage filed a lawsuit which sought to allow these unions. The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled against the plaintiffs. In recent sessions of the Maryland General Assembly, legislators opposed to same-sex marriage have attempted, without success, to enact an amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriage regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. An effort to legalize same-sex marriage through the General Assembly in 2011 failed after several weeks of debate.


The federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage in the United States, but such marriages are recognized by some individual states. The lack of federal recognition was codified in 1996 by the Defense of Marriage Act.

Other States

Licenses are granted by seven states: Connecticut, Delaware,  Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and Oregon's Coquille and Washington state's Suquamish Indian tribes.

As of June 2011, 12 states prohibit same-sex marriage via statute and 29 via the state's constitution.

Same Sex Divorce in Maryland-Married Elsewhere

While Maryland has yet to grant full marriage rights to all its citizens, some circuit courts have granted divorces to same sex couples who married in states where such marriages are permitted. Other Circuits have refused. At present, is an uncertain area of Maryland. The argument for Maryland to take jurisdiction rests on comity and the clear precedents that Maryland has allowed divorces from other marriages validly entered out-of-state, even when Maryland would not itself have permitted the marriage. On February 24, 2010, Maryland's Attorney General issued an opinion (95 Opp. Att’y Gen., 3 (2010)) that Maryland law could recognize same-sex marriages performed in other U.S. states which permit same-sex marriage. According to Attorney General, the opinion is binding on state agencies effective immediately. In support of his position, the Attorney General notes that Maryland “has recognized common law marriages from other states, although there is no common law marriage in Maryland, and has recognized a Rhode Island marriage between an uncle and a niece, although a statute prohibits marriage between an uncle and a niece in Maryland.”

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