The attorney general's opinion has been out just a few hours, but it's already generated strong political reaction, with one delegate even calling for Doug Gansler's impeachment. Here are the basics of the opinion, from a Baltimore Sun story this morning:
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler on Wednesday morning released a long-awaited opinion saying same-sex marriages performed in other states could be recognized by Maryland's legal system.
Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Democrat, asked in May asked if such marriages could be recognized. "The answer to that question is clearly 'yes,'" Gansler wrote in a 40-page document.
The opinion does not enable same-sex couples to wed here. It also does not carry the weight of law, but is meant to guide judges and state agencies.
"What we say in this opinion is a prediction, not a prescription" as to how a court would interpret the law, Gansler wrote.
We understand that Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr., an Anne Arundel County Republican, is so dismayed that he's seeking Gansler's impeachment. Other lawmakers say it's now more important than ever for the legislature to decisively weigh in on the matter.
Under state law, a marriage is defined as between a man and a woman, but five states and Washington, D.C., permit them, prompting the debate about how Maryland should treat same-sex unions if a couple moves here.
Del. Emmett Burns called the opinion "political" and confusing. Burns put in a bill, which was defeated earlier this session, that would have essentially negated Gansler's opinion.
But a similar bill by another Baltimore County Democrat, Sen. Norman Stone, is still alive. Stone said this morning that the General Assembly must make clear its position on recognizing same-sex unions.
Stone said he's concerned that with Washington, D.C., set to begin permitting the unions next month, Maryland couples will simply marry there and then continue living here. Stone believes that if people "strongly believe in same-sex marriages, they should go live in those states" that allow it. A hearing on his bill is set for next week.
Meanwhile, supporters of same-sex marriages are again pursuing legislation that would allow those unions to be performed in this state. The bill has broad support, particularly among members of the House Judiciary Committee, which will consider it March 12. But legislative leaders doubt the effort will make it through both chambers.
Many, including Equality Maryland, praised Gansler's opinion. Freedom to Marry also has kind words for Gansler.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, a Democrat, said he had not reviewed Gansler's opinion but reiterated his stance that same-sex couples should be permitted civil unions. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, a Democrat, said he personally believes that marriages should be between a man and a woman but said that as a lawyer, he understands the basis of Gansler's opinion.
"I believe the state must give full faith and credit to the laws of our sister states," Miller said.
Burns said he expetcs Maryland voters to one day decide for themselves whether the state should allow same-sex marriages.
"It is going to end up on referendum, and I am going to win," he said.