Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Maryland since January 1, 2013. On March 1, 2012, Governor Martin O’Malley signed H.B. 438, a bill that allowed same-sex couples to marry. However, opponents gathered signatures to put a referendum that would have repealed the new law on the ballot. On November 6, 2012, the referendum did not pass. NCLR worked as part of a broad coalition to help pass the bill and defeat the referendum.
Even before this law went into effect, Maryland already recognized marriages between same-sex couples entered in other jurisdictions. On May 18, 2012, the Court of Appeals of Maryland (the state’s highest court), ruled in Port v. Cowan that Maryland must recognize an out-of-state marriage of a same-sex couple if the marriage was valid in the state where the couple married. Under the legal doctrine of “comity,” the court held that Maryland must recognize out-of-state marriages for purposes of divorce and for all other purposes, even if the couple could not have entered into the marriage within the state.