Maryland Attorney General Declares State Can Recognize Out of Jurisdiction Same-Sex Marriages
Posted on February 24, 2010 by David Cohen

I want to share with you the following news I received from Brad Luna and Trevor Thomas at HRC in Washington D.C.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, lauded Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler today for his sound legal opinion in analyzing Maryland’s marriage comity laws.

“Although today’s long-awaited opinion by Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler won’t erase many of the inequalities same-sex couples in Maryland face, it is certainly a positive development on the road to marriage equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Today’s opinion by the Maryland Attorney General only continues to further highlight the burdensome patchwork of unequal laws same-sex couples face across the country. With every step that is taken in the progress towards full equality, it becomes more and more obvious that separate is not equal and marriage by any other name is not marriage.”

Maryland may join New York in providing marriage rights to same-sex couples married out of jurisdiction while not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the state. The Attorney General’s opinion explains that the state may recognize out of jurisdiction marriages either through legislation enacted by the Maryland General Assembly, through a decision of the Court of Appeals, or by state agencies. With Washington, D.C. poised to begin accepting marriage applications from same-sex couples on March 3, 2010, when the Congressional review period ends, recognition of same-sex marriages will have a significant practical meaning for many same-sex couples in Maryland.

At this time, five states recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Five states—California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada—plus Washington, D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin provide same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. New York, and Washington, D.C. recognize marriages of same-sex couples validly entered into outside of the jurisdiction. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships. The Proposition 8 vote has been challenged in federal court; a decision is not expected any time soon.
Posted on January 20, 2010
by David Cohen

I have just  this  email that I would love to share with my Pink readers. This was written by the conservative great-granddaughter of President Hoover and advisory member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the foundation leading the case against Proposition 8, posted yesterday a blog on Fox News in support of marriage equality.

Why I’m Joining the Fight for Marriage Equality

By Margaret Hoover -

If you are uncomfortable with gay marriage, I encourage you to pay attention to the landmark civil rights trial which began this week in California.

This week a landmark civil rights court case began in California.  The federal trial Perry v. Schwarzenegger challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.  Two couples argue that they have a constitutional right to marry, and that California’s law denies them due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment, relegating them second-class citizens.

You may think, “San Francisco liberals at it again! Hijacking the courts, inventing new constitutional rights!”  Stop there.  The lead counsel in the case is George W. Bush’s Solicitor General, who successfully argued Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court in one of his fifty-five performances before the nation’s highest judicial body.  He is Theodore “Ted” Olsen, a founder of the Federalist Society, constitutional law expert, and one of the most respected conservatives in America. 

Mr. Olsen thinks constitutionally guaranteed rights ought to transcend left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican divides (he even recruited legal opponent David Boies as co-counsel).  I agree with him.  And as a proud Republican representing a younger generation of conservatives that cherish individual freedom, I am honored to join the American Equal Right’s Foundation’s Advisory Board.

I encourage everyone, but especially Republicans, to consider Mr. Olsen’s arguments on the merits, both in his opening statement and throughout the trial’s ensuing three weeks.   The plaintiff’s counsel seeks to convince Judge Vaughn R. Walker that the Supreme Court has already decided in Loving v. Virginia,Turner v. Safely, and in Lawrence v. Texas among others, that the right to marry is a fundamental right currently denied to an entire class of American citizens.  This is unconstitutional.

We Republicans have often found ourselves on the wrong side of civil rights struggles since the 1960s, but there was a reason that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s father is said to have supported Republicans.

Republicans were historically the party ever-expanding freedom to disenfranchised minorities, from newly liberated slaves to giving women the right to vote.  Susan B. Anthony was a Republican.  By supporting the AFER trial we have an opportunity to establish our historic credibility on civil rights issues once again.  But we should support marriage equality because it is the right thing to do.

Gays and lesbians are our friends, neighbors, doctors, colleagues, sisters and brothers.  Does it sit well with you that because of their sexual orientation, a factor outside one’s control, that they should have less rights and protections in the eyes of the law?  While increasing acceptance of gays marks my generational experience—Ellen DeGeneres is welcomed into the living rooms of millions of Americans daily, an impossibility in even my childhood— many who are older than me fear that if gays and lesbians can marry, what’s next?  They worry that homosexual marriage degrades the integrity of heterosexual marriage.  They fear that their children might be exposed to alternative lifestyles that will impact them negatively, or argue that the purpose of marriage is procreation.  If you are uncomfortable with gay marriage, I encourage you to pay attention to this trial, the plaintiffs, the defense and the spectrum of experts, historians, psychologists, economists, political scientists, who will testify as to the effects and detriment of Proposition 8.  In the words of NAACP chairman Julian Bond, “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”

Some Republicans support gay rights, but prefer progress through legislative action or majority rule at the ballot box, rather than judicial action.  But what if a democratic election imposes mandates that violate a citizen’s constitutional freedom?  In the event that majority rule insufficiently protects individual liberty, our system of checks and balances puts forth that it is the role of the courts, to guarantee and protect the rights to individual Americans.

That’s why the Supreme Court, in 1967 Loving v. Virginia, legalized interracial marriage –six years after our current president was born to an interracial couple.  At that time 73% of the population opposed “miscegenation.”  How long would it have taken to change popular opinion, for the minority to democratically win their constitutional rights? As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously asserted, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” 

 For those of you who would label me a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) for taking this stand, I direct you to Vice President Cheney, whose conservative credentials are impeccable, and who answered a question on the topic before the National Press Club audience on June 1, 2009 by saying simply, “…freedom means freedom for everyone.”

Please visit Facebook page Republicans for Marriage Equality and American Equal Rights Foundation to follow the details of the trial.

Margaret Hoover is a conservative commentator and Fox News contributor.