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Should Maryland Recognize Out-of-State Same Sex Marriages?

Posted by Neil Tyra | Aug 21, 2009 | 0 Comments

The question is obviously highly political. But it is about to come to a head here in Maryland as we await a legal opinion from Attorney General Doug Gansler as to whether or not under Maryland law same sex marriages that are legal in other states can be recognized here in Maryland. Same sex marriages themselves are not permitted in Maryland but are in several other states (currently Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, as well as the roughly 18,000 same-sex marriages that are legally recognized in California). Governor Martin O'Malley (D) is apparently leaning towards recognizing such marriages. The District of Columbia already recognizes out-of-state same sex marriages while Virginia has yet to weigh in on the issue.

Regardless of how you feel personally, it is a fascinating legal argument full of due process and equal protection issues as well as the obvious argument concerning full faith and credit.

For the record, not that anyone cares, I support both same-sex marriage and recognition of out-of-state same sex marriages. I wrote on the subject in law school and have followed the debate closely as various states struggle with the question. What I have determined, and you may come to a different opinion, is that when all is said and done, the real reason for reserving the institution of marriage to the heterosexual community is because they/we want the word and it's meaning to themselves/ourselves. You can have the same thing, just call it by a different name – civil union. Governor O'Malley supports civil unions in this state rather than same-sex marriages. Even the state's highest court, in the seminal case of Conaway v. Deane, 401 Md. 219, 932 A.2d 571 (Md. App., 2007) articulated that belief in the final sentence of their conclusion in the 4-3 decision upholding the ban on same-sex marriages by saying “In declaring that the State's legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structure in which children are born are related reasonably to the means employed by Family Law § 2-201, our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex.”

So what we are fighting over is the interest in fostering procreation and encouraging family values. It seems to me that we in the heterosexual community are doing a pretty good job of screwing those objectives up without any help from the state. When more than half of the marriages in this state end up in divorce, when a vast number of folks are divorced multiple times, when many chose to marry and not have children, or have children outside of marriage, or end up spending years screwing up their kids lives in broken marriages – I ask just exactly what are we holding onto?

If you are interested in sending a message to Attorney General Doug Gansler in support of the recognition of out-of-state same sex marriages, go to can sign a petition here and view a sample letter.

About the Author

Neil Tyra

Noel's Husband, Bernadette's Dad, Clark's Father – My Three Best Roles So who am I and what am I about? First I was Noel's husband. I'm married (38 years and counting) to a long time resident of Rockville whose family goes back three generations.


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