Maryland Same-Sex Couples Can Get Licenses Early, Valid 2013

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Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a legal opinion on Thursday stating that same-sex couples can start receiving marriage licenses starting in December conditional upon the licenses being valid for Jan. 1, according to the Associated Press.

Those licenses could start being issued as soon as Dec. 6. The date became an issue of legal concern due to the fact the the law goes into effect Jan. 1, but due to the holiday courts will be closed.

Here's some of the details of the opinion and the state of same-sex marriage.

* Maryland same-sex marriage was approved by voters earlier in November.

* Clerks are permitted to issue marriage licenses as soon as Gov. Martin O'Malley formally proclaims the law to have been approved by voters, which he expects to do on Dec. 6.

* The provisions of a 48-hour waiting period are considered satisfied if a license is issued earlier than Dec. 30, thanks to the Jan. 1 effective date.

* The Baltimore Sun noted that Question 6 passed with 52 percent of voter's approval against 48 percent who disapproved.

* Same-sex marriage couples with valid licenses in other states can't receive a Maryland license instead, the same restriction that currently applies to heterosexual couples.

* According to the Washington Times, Gansler wrote in his opinion that "although there is a 'legal reason' why same-sex couples cannot be licensed to marry before midnight on Jan. 1 there is no such legal reason why they should not be licensed to marry at any time after the moment the law takes effect."

* However, as noted by the AP, couples with civil unions from other states could marry in Maryland.

* "In the absence of statutory language prohibiting the issuance of a marriage license to a couple who has entered into a civil union in another state, we see no obstacle to the issuance of a license in such situations," Gansler said in the opinion as reported by the AP.

* Maryland joined with Washington and Maine in legalizing same-sex marriage on election day. Voter's decisions brought the total of states to nine, plus Washington, D.C.

* Washington will be the next state to allow same-sex marriage to go into effect. The state will allow county clerks to issue licenses on Dec. 6 and the weddings can take place on Dec. 9, after the required three-day waiting period.

Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and lives near Washington in Germantown, Md.

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