Maryland is the latest state to show progress on gay marriage.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler (pictured), on Wednesday, has declared gay marriages performed outside the state as legally valid. This means that, if Gansler's directive is followed, all Maryland state agencies will afford married gay couples in the state the same benefits that straight married couples receive.
What this means is that Maryland has, in effect, rejected DOMA. It also means that, while gay marriage is not yet able to be performed in Maryland, if a couple gets married outside the state and returns, their union will be recognized.
According to Thursday's Washington Post,
Gansler, a supporter of legalizing same-sex marriages, was asserting his authority as the top legal adviser to state agencies to answer a question that experts say had been left unclear by Maryland law. He was responding to a legislator's request that he issue an opinion.
The attorney general's opinion unleashed a torrent of emotions from both gay rights advocates and those opposed to same-sex marriage, adding a potentially explosive issue to election-year politics in Maryland. It is likely to be quickly challenged in court, Gansler acknowledged.Also, from that edition, for any people who still think that Democrats have our back, note this:
His opinion is certain to have political implications. Democratic leaders in the state's General Assembly appear to have little enthusiasm for making same-sex marriage a marquee issue in the 2010 elections.Hmmm....where have we heard that before?
Washington Post Editorial supports decision
Today, an editorial in the Washington Post came out in support of the Attorney General's decision:
The Attorney General of Maryland does not have the power to legalize same-sex marriage; the legislature almost 40 years ago determined that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this state." His opinions do not carry the weight of law; only legislative pronouncements and court rulings do.The editorial concludes, as follows:
What he can do is provide an authoritative reading of what the law commands. That is what Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has done in concluding that same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions may -- and should -- be recognized under Maryland law. In the process, he has produced a legal compass that should be followed to provide overdue equality for gay and lesbian couples in Maryland.
Mr. Gansler's opinion and the possibility that gay couples in Maryland may soon be able to marry in the District are welcome developments. But they are no substitutes for permanent protections in Maryland itself. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) should direct state agencies to begin applying the attorney general's advice immediately.Considering that, for the most part, Democrats will hardly be embracing glbt issues, with the mid-terms happening later this year (and with Democrats in serious need of a spine), this development is rather encouraging.