The Freedom to Marry in Maryland

Winning Marriage: January 1, 2013

Same-sex couples began marrying in Maryland on January 1, 2013 after voters in Maryland upheld by referendum the passage of a freedom to marry bill in the Maryland legislature. Question 6 passed by popular vote on November 6, 2012.  

History and the Path to Victory:

  • January 1, 1973: The Maryland Legislature passes a statute restricting marriage to different-sex couples, becoming the first state in the country to pass such a statute.
  • 1973-2004: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Maine take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • July 7, 2004: The American Civil Liberties Union, working with Equality Maryland, files a legal case, Deane & Polyak v. Conaway, seeking the freedom to marry in Maryland.
  • January 20, 2006: Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock in Maryland rules in Deane & Polyak v. Conaway, a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples violates the state constitution.
  • September 17, 2007: The Maryland Court of Appeals rules against the freedom to marry in Deane & Polyak v. Conaway, upholding marriage discrimination and pushing the fight to the Maryland Legislature.
  • July 1, 2008: A law enabling same-sex couples to join together in domestic partnership takes effect in Maryland following passage in the Legislature.
  • February 25, 2010: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announces that Maryland will begin recognizing marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states. The order is later challenged in court, where the Court of Appeals decides to uphold it.
  • January 2011: Polling in Maryland tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • January 23, 2012: Governor Martin O’Malley introduces legislation to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Maryland, following a few stumbles in passing a similar bill the previous year.
  • March 1, 2012: Governor Martin O’Malley signs a freedom to marry bill into law after it is approved by the Maryland legislature. The bill is set to take effect in January 2013, and in the meantime, marriage opponents push the bill to a popular referendum for the law, which becomes Question 6 in November 2012.
  • November 6, 2012: A coalition of support for the freedom to marry led by Marylanders for Marriage Equality helps pass Question 6 at the ballot. Marriage supporters also triumph at the ballot in Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington on the same night.
  • January 1, 2013: Same-sex couples begin marrying in Maryland after the freedom to marry takes effect at last.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, bringing the freedom to marry to Maryland once and for all.

Groups that Actively Worked on Marriage:

  • Marylanders for Marriage Equality is the coalition working for the freedom to marry in the Free State.

  • ACLU Maryland works to ensure that all people in the state of Maryland are free to think and speak as they choose and can lead their lives free from discrimination and unwarranted government intrusion. 

  • Equality Maryland is Maryland's largest LGBT civil rights group working to secure and protect the rights of LGBT Marylanders by promoting legislative initiatives at the state, county and municipal levels.

  • Maryland Black Family Alliance is a coalition of black families and leaders of many faiths who stand for fairness, justice and equality for all families.

  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.