O'Malley Seems Open to Recognizing Out-of-State Gay Marriages
During a radio show this morning, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) suggested he was open to recognizing gay marriages performed in other states -- something he hasn't said publicly before -- with several caveats.
"If a person has those rights under another state. ... I think we probably should respect those rights," O'Malley said during an appearance on WTOP radio's "Ask the Governor."
O'Malley, however, also made clear that his preference remains legalizing civil unions -- and not gay marriage -- in Maryland, and his aides labored to describe the evolving legal, legislative and political contexts in which his remarks were made.
State officials are awaiting an opinion from Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) as to whether Maryland can recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. That opinion -- requested by a state senator who is gay -- could still be weeks, if not months, away.
O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said O'Malley has no intention of doing anything before Gansler's opinion is issued, saying that is the "prudent" course.
The attorney general's office in the past has issued less-formal advisory letters to lawmakers stating that Maryland cannot recognize same-sex marriages from other states, citing a state law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. But those opinions have acknowledged the law is less than clear.
Gansler has spoken out in favor of legalizing gay marriage, which has prompted some speculation that his opinion could say something different. But even with a more favorable opinion, recognizing gay marriages from other states could still require an act of the Maryland legislature or possibly an executive order by the governor. Abbruzzese said it was premature to discuss the possibility of the latter.
The governor's comments come as a District of Columbia law recognizing gay marriages performed elsewhere is set to take effect at midnight tonight. New York Gov. David A. Paterson (D) recently signed an executive order to the same effect.
While on the radio, O'Malley also said he would support a legislative effort to ban talking on cell phones while driving in Maryland. Lawmakers recently forbid drivers from writing or sending text messages but stopped short of a cell phone ban.
"The data would seem to be on your side on that score," O'Malley told a caller who cited the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone. "I hope we're moving in that direction."
July 6, 2009; 11:52 AM ET
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