Maryland and the Freedom to Marry Spotlight
February 17, 2010
February 16, 2010
Last year, Maryland's Attorney General, Douglas Gansler, said that he would look into the issue of whether Maryland could recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state. Maryland has a three-decades-old law that bans same-sex marriage in their state (that law was upheld in 2007 by a sharply divided State Supreme Court), but the question of recognizing out-of-state marriages falls beyond the purview of that 1970s relic.
Hence Attorney General Gansler's study. His office was supposed to release a recommendation on the issue already, but months upon months have passed without a peep. Folks have been writing Attorney General Gansler's office for the better part of eight months now urging him to come down on the side of equal rights, and recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.
Now the issue is getting an intense level of scrutiny. Unless hell or high water or right-wing fundamentalists take over, neighboring Washington, D.C. is set to start recognizing same-sex marriages, making the seat of the federal government a world-class destination for same-sex weddings. Will neighboring Maryland, just a fifteen minute ride on the Metro Red Line, recognize those marriages too? Or will the gay couple in Silver Spring start their train ride not married, then be married as they hit Union Station and Metro Center, then all of a sudden not be married once they reach Shady Grove? Talk about a train ride of horror.
Maryland has been a hotbed of activity on the gay marriage front this year. State House Delegate Emmett Burns (a Democrat, no less) tried to introduce legislation that would have banned Maryland from ever recognizing out-of-state gay marriages. Thankfully, his proposed legislation didn't cut the fabulous mustard in the Maryland legislature, and was defeated by four votes earlier this month.
But the folks who worry that gay marriage will lead to universal measles aren't done yet. Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer (this time it's a Republican!) has introduced legislation that would call for Attorney General Gansler to be impeached if he issues a ruling recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages. That's right, preemptive impeachment! Hey, it worked for warfare in Iraq, why not in state and local politics, too?
It's not the first time Delegate Dwyer has tried to use impeachment. As J. Doug Gill writes for the Examiner, he also tried to impeach a judge many moons ago who said that gays should be able to get married. Word has it he may also try to impeach the driver who cut him off last week on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Meanwhile, we wait for Attorney General Gansler's opinion. Haven't sent him a message yet? Do so now. Because in two weeks, gay couples who get married in D.C. (or anywhere else gay marriage is legal) are gonna need to know whether Baltimore, Annapolis, or Hagerstown will also recognize their relationship. [Link]