VIA THE WASHINGTON POST:

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) said Wednesday that effective immediately, and until challenged in court, the state recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and that Maryland agencies should begin affording out-of-state gay couples all the rights they have been awarded in other places.

“State agencies in Maryland will recognize out-of-state gay marriages as of right now,” Gansler said at a news conference explaining the effect of a long-awaited opinion he released Wednesday morning.

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Earlier in the day, most lawmakers in the state capital had interpreted Gansler’s opinion as having not gone that far. But Gansler said that in his role as the chief legal adviser to all executive branch agencies, his opinion now dictates how state agencies should respond when same-sex couples from elsewhere request benefits and legal protections they would have been awarded in the four New England states and Iowa, where same-sex marriages are legal.

The issue will soon become far less abstract in Maryland, with the District expected to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this spring.

“It’s not that foreign of a concept, I mean, it’s just people, it’s just like any other heterosexual couples,” Gansler said. “However a heterosexual couple is treated that was validly married in Maryland or elsewhere, [a same-sex couple] will be treated like that here in Maryland, unless and until a court or the legislature decides differently.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) responded to Gansler’s opinion with a statement saying: “We will be guided by the Attorney General’s thorough analysis and legal advice on this matter. . . . I expect all state agencies to work with the Attorney General’s office to ensure compliance with the law.”

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