Same Sex Marriage will Take Effect on January 1 in Maryland
The passage of Question 6 in Maryland will now allow same sex marriages in the state but the law will take effect on January 1. It will also take a few more days before new marriage licenses are official. Under the current marriage law in Maryland, a license doesn’t take effect until 48 hours of its issuance. January 1 is a state holiday and the courthouses are closed.
The earliest that same-sex couples can get a marriage license would be January 2. It would be effective on January 4 according to David Paulson, spokesman for the Maryland Attorney’s General’s Office. The General Assembly asked for a written opinion because some of the lawmakers assumed that gay couples could get married on New Year’s Day, which is the day the law takes effect.
Alex Hughes, senior aide to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, said that they were asking because some of the lawmakers believe that it was the intent of the legislature that marriages could take place on January 1 and should not be delayed due to paperwork. Paulson said that some counties could accept applications before January 2 in anticipation of the post-New Year rush but the licenses would still not be effective any sooner.
The passage of Question 6 upheld the same-sex marriage law that Governor Martin O’Malley signed in March. Legislators made the effective date of the bill January 1 in anticipation of the successful petition that gave voters the last say on the issue.
Washington State has also approved same-sex marriages to join Maryland and Maine as the first states to pass the law by popular vote. Referendum 74 maintained its lead of 52 percent. Supporters celebrated the victory as opponents already conceded the race. Gay activists called it a historic day. The law was signed by Governor Chris Gregoire but was on hold until the results of the election.