Reporting Meghan McCorkell
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s a key decision in Maryland’s same-sex marriage controversy. The state’s highest court unanimously rules to allow gay couples married in other states to get a divorce in Maryland.
Meghan McCorkell explains why this could impact the entire same-sex marriage debate.
Proponents say the appeals court ruling is a step in the right direction toward legalizing same-sex marriage.
For years, Jessica Port has been trying to divorce her partner.
“We’ve been split for three years. We both want closure. We both want to move forward,” Port said.
In 2010, a judge refused to grant the divorce because he doesn’t consider the two women legally married. Now, a Court of Appeals unanimously overturns that ruling.
“It means that it’s not repugnant to Maryland’s public policy, which is a big stepping stone for that to be established,” Port said.
“The impact of this decision is incredible. It affects family law, estate, all kinds of rights that married couples have,” Mark Scurti, an attorney for Port’s partner, said.
Gov. Martin O’Malley– who signed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage– says the court’s ruling is a step forward.
“The laws of other states have found ways to protect the right of individuals in the context of civil marriage and our state needs to do the same,” he said.
But opponents disagree. A spokesperson for Maryland Marriage Alliance tells WJZ: “This is merely an example of how the courts and the legislature continue to be out of step with the clear will of the people.”
The group said they already have two-thirds of the signatures they need to put same-sex marriage to referendum.
Port admits it will be a fight in November.
“For now, I can be thankful that Maryland– the state that I live in and the state that I work in and I own property in– is moving in the right direction,” she said.
Opponents of same-sex marriage must turn in more than 55,000 signatures by the end of next month to get the issue on the ballot.
Same-sex marriage will become legal in Maryland in January if voters pass it in November.