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First same-sex marriage licenses might be issued in Md. on Thursday

December 05, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

Same-sex couples in Maryland should be able to start getting marriage licenses on Thursday for weddings to be held on or after Jan. 1.

On Thursday morning, Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to sign a proclamation certifying the Nov. 6 election results, including a referendum that affirmed Maryland’s new law allowing same-sex marriage.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for O’Malley, wrote in an email on Wednesday that clerks of the circuit court in Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City, who issue marriage licenses, will be notified after the proclamation is signed.

Dennis J. Weaver, Washington County’s clerk of the circuit court, said Wednesday that his office has received about five or six calls from people wanting to know when same-sex marriage licenses will be issued.

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Weaver said he hadn’t heard a firm plan for Thursday’s proclamation signing, so his office has told callers that it might be safer to come in on Friday.

The Maryland General Assembly passed a law in the spring making same-sex marriage legal in the state.

Opponents collected enough signatures to force a statewide referendum on the issue. Voters upheld the law last month.

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, meaning that’s the earliest that same-sex weddings could happen.

Last week, the Maryland attorney general’s office released an opinion that says clerks can issue licenses ahead of time, as long as they aren’t effective before Jan. 1.

Previously, there were questions about the process because Jan. 1, the effective date, is a holiday. If clerks had to wait until Jan. 1 to issue a license, that would push the date the first licenses could be issued back to Jan. 2.

Because there is a two-day waiting period after licenses are issued, the first weddings couldn’t have taken place until Jan. 4.

Weaver said wedding licenses usually take effect on 6 a.m. on the second day after they are issued.

But the new same-sex marriage licenses issued in December will take effect at midnight at the start of Jan. 1; the waiting period will have been more than two days.

Weaver said Dec. 28 is the last day his office will be open before Jan. 1.

Then, the office will reopen on Jan. 2, the first day county staff could perform a wedding at the courthouse, he said.

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