Home State Laws Page 6

State Laws

Gay Marriage Laws in Maryland

Gay Marriage Laws in Maryland

While small steps are indeed being taken to recognize same sex partnerships in the state of Maryland, marriage for homosexual couples is still not considered legal by law. According to the 1973 Maryland Family Law, Section 2-201- one of the first state laws of it’s kind to actually define marriage, in the state of Maryland, marriage unions are only valid if performed between a man and a woman.
And although this 37-year old Maryland marriage law has been strongly upheld by the Maryland Court of Appeals, Maryland gay marriage supporters have been putting up a fight to have the Maryland marriage laws altered to include homosexual couples.
On July 4, 2004, for instance, a lawsuit by the name of Dean & Polyak v. Conaway was filed on behalf of nine same-sex couples and a recently widowed gay partner by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit sought to have Maryland gay unions legalized within the state. While the Court of Appeals acknowledged that marriage is a fundamental right, it argued that in Maryland, gay marriage between same-sex partners is not fundamental. 
In a 4 to 3 decision, the high court rejected the arguments presented by the plaintiffs of the ACLU, which stressed that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is sex discrimination. On September 18, 2007, in a devastating upset, the court asserted that the Maryland marriage law does not deny Maryland gay couples their constitutional rights, and it was officially decided that the legal ban on same-sex marriage would remain in place.
Despite the setback, Maryland gay marriage supporters and equality activists continue to rally against this ban, waiting for Maryland marriage laws to include homosexuals like many other states. In the meantime, however, the General Assembly has passed two bills which create at least some form of domestic partnership in the state. 
Although weak, very limited, and void of the rights to health care and tax benefits which heterosexual couples are allowed to enjoy, this legislation, which became effective in July 2008, includes 11 protections for domestic partners. For example, it allows for hospital visitation and the right to make funeral arrangements for each partners. It’s a seemingly small step in the greater movement to win complete marital rights, but at least it’s a start.
In a more recent development for the Maryland gay community, Douglas F. Gansler, the Attorney General of Maryland, has said that same-sex marriages performed in other states will be recognized until the state’s General Assembly or high courts specify otherwise. This February 2010 statement has yet to be determined.

Gay Marriage Laws in Massachusetts

Gay Marriage Laws in Massachusetts

On May 17, 2004, the debate over gay marriage in
Massachusetts finally ended. Massachusetts made history on a grand scale by
becoming the first state in the U.S. to legally grant Massachusetts gay couples
the rights, and respect of full marriage equality.

Thanks to the landmark Goodridge v. Department of Public Health case, a 4–3 ruling was
brought to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on November 18, 2003, which
found that the state of Massachusetts may not, under any circumstance,
“deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil
marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” 
While the idea of civil unions for the Massachusetts gay community had been the
first consideration, the court also ruled that civil unions would not meet the
requirements that the Goodridge case

So, in the end, the court decided that full marriage rights for
the Massachusetts gay community  would become legal. And the rest, as they
say, truly is history. Massachusetts became a prime example of a liberal
democracy at work, respecting rights for all
of it’s residents regardless of sexual preference. Over 6,000 gay and
lesbian partners would be married in the first 6 months of the new law alone,
kicking off the newly instated privilege of gay marriage in Massachusetts with
a real bang.

In another milestone decision for the
state, on July 31, 2008, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill that revoked an
old law, dating back to 1913, that was used to deny marriage licenses to
same-sex couples from other states, unless they had plans to reside in
Massachusetts. With the new law, however, homosexual couples from anywhere in
the world can officially marry in the state of Massachusetts without
necessarily intending to reside in Massachusetts.


Although there have indeed been
efforts to appeal the court’s decision to allow gay marriage in Massachusetts
by amending the state’s constitution, the most recent being in the year 2007,
all efforts have successfully been defeated, and for now, the Massachusetts gay
community can enjoy the freedom of marrying their partners if they so desire.

That is not to say that gay marriage in Massachusetts is
flawless, though. Due to the fact that federal law currently states that
marital benefits are only received in heterosexual marriages, there is still
has plenty room for improvement. Over 1,000 marital benefits still remain
unavailable to married Massachusetts gay couples.