People should read Gansler's same-sex marriage opinion

February 26, 2010

Contrary to Richard L. Lelonek's opinion ("Gasnler had little choice on gay marriage opinion," Readers respond, Feb. 25), the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not apply to the determination of the validity of a marriage, and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's opinion addressed that very point. While the Supreme Court has upheld the right of a state to full faith and credit in the recognition of judgments (providing that that state had jurisdiction in the first instance), it has not held that to be the case in recognition of state laws. The court long ago recognized the practical problem that would occur if it demanded full faith and credit for other state laws in all cases; in a case in which two states had an interest and in which the suit could be brought, the state that was the forum could never apply its law to the dispute. The worst consequence would be that the judge would have to be an expert in all 50 states' laws, not just Maryland's.

Recognition of marriages involves not only the application of state law but also the balancing of interests of the respective parties and the state. I highly recommend everyone read the opinion as it documents the history of Maryland law with regard to recognition of marriages, and also the current legal thinking on the issue throughout the country as it addresses the various issues and situations that could arise in Maryland requiring a judicial nightmare of case-by-case resolution.

Erin Gilland Roby

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