In an advisory opinion issued to the Maryland legislature, Attorney General, Douglas Gansler, issued an opinion on Wednesday that Maryland Courts would likely recognize as married, same-sex Maryland couples who were legally married in other states. This should provide gay married couples with the same rights and obligations as heterosexual couples.
The exact implications of this decision are unclear, however, the decision may eventually grant same-sex spouses rights to health benefits and an exemption from Maryland inheritances, estate and transfer taxes. That said, it might also impose obligations relating to child support and alimony, if later divorced.
In the past, Maryland has expanded benefits to those registered as “domestic partners”, but this opinion is much broader and may provide an incentive for same-sex couples in Maryland to get married in another state (that allows it). It will likely be up to Maryland’s highest court to issue the final verdict on this matter and clarification on what it means. A very controversial political topic, we will be certain to stay on top of this legislation for our clients.