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Uncertainty remains after Md. marriage opinion



Even the experts are uncertain how Maryland courts will now treat legally married same-sex couples.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) promised state agencies would comply with Attorney General Doug Gansler’s finding two weeks ago that Maryland may legally recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

But circuit courts that handle family violence protection orders and divorce cases are not bound by O’Malley’s directive and must consider the opinion on its own merits, according to several legal experts who spoke with DC Agenda.

“It’s certainly their prerogative whether to follow that. I would like to think the courts would accept the opinion, but we don’t know,” said Barbara Babb, director of the University of Baltimore’s Center for Families, Children and the Courts.

“Legislative direction would certainly be a help to the courts, but I don’t think it’s necessary for them to do the right thing.”

Family law contains several rights and administrative advantages reserved for married couples and designed to protect families in the event of divorce. If the courts choose to recognize Gansler’s opinion, same-sex married couples would have access to family breakdown services, child support, alimony and division of marital property.

Other safety-net statutes that are currently available to same-sex families but made easier with legal marriage recognition include child-in-need and civil protection orders in the event of neglect or domestic violence.

But it gets more complex during the creation of a family. Stepchild adoption would be significantly streamlined for married same-sex couples, Babb said, but not all marriage certificates are equal.

“Although Maryland currently authorizes second-parent adoption, it would be very clear — assuming the judges follow the attorney general’s opinion,” she said.

But children who have not been formally adopted by their non-biological parent could be left in legal limbo, Babb said, because presumptive parenting rights have not traditionally been recognized in Maryland courts.

“That would be one of the really interesting questions,” she said. “If the second parent hasn’t adopted the child, [would] the court give legal guardianship or legal authority to the non-biological parent? That’s a remaining question that isn’t as clear under the family law statute.

“I would suspect that in the law in the state where the couple was married, both parents would be seen as the child’s parent. If that’s the case, then Maryland would honor that. But the courts have chosen not to follow the de facto parent doctrine, so there are certainly areas of law that the court has taken pretty strident stand on with regard to same-sex couples raising children already.”

Other areas of law where courts extend benefits to married couples, such as the establishment of trusts, wrongful death suits, presumptive claims on estates, mutual debt responsibility and spousal legal immunities, also are dependent on whether courts accept Gansler’s opinion.

A further set of rights for married couples required of third parties are automatic in theory, but may ultimately have to be decided by courts, such as extending health insurance benefits to a spouse, the right to hospital visitation and making funeral decisions.

Jana Singer, a University of Maryland law school professor, said the attorney general’s opinion was legally sound and would be treated with greater weight than an ordinary “friend of the court” brief.

She said that one case could be all that is required to clarify the issue, or it could take many cases in different areas of law.

“If they decide to be narrower, they could say within this particular statute, Maryland law extends recognition in this context,” Singer said. “It’s more likely that we’ll get a broader opinion where they say recognition applies widely to Maryland law statutes.”

Equality Maryland’s study of state law found 425 statutes that utilize marital status of familial relationship as a basis for granting a right, privilege or restriction. Such restrictions, where a spouse has fewer rights than an individual, include conflict of interest prohibitions on areas like awarding of contracts to family members, corporate directorship limitations and exemptions from first right of purchase.

Dan Friedman, Gansler’s counsel and a former University of Maryland professor of constitutional law, was unable to speak publicly on how the courts should rule, but said that Gansler’s opinion was constitutionally valid and the attorney general could not be removed from office for issuing it.

Friedman wrote to House Speaker Michael Busch this week regarding the powers of attorney general after state Del. Don Dwyer (R-Anne Arundel County) threatened impeachment proceedings against Gansler.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland is standing in support of Gansler’s opinion saying the state should recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages due to the doctrine of comity, in which contracts are valid anywhere in the United States if they are valid in the state they were created.

“Unless and until something contrary is said, same-sex families should consider themselves married in the state of Maryland and expect to be treated as such,” said David Rocah, staff attorney for ACLU of Maryland. “But it will take some time for it to be clear what rights are extended to them. All of the things couples did to protect their families, they should continue to do, in addition to expecting to be treated like the married couples they are.”

ACLU, Lambda Legal and Equality Maryland have created an informational sheet on the issue and are publishing it online at

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AIDS Walk Delaware to be held in Wilmington, Rehoboth

Events will raise money for HIV testing, treatment



This year’s AIDS Walk Delaware will be held Sept. 17 in two locations: Brandywine Park in Wilmington, and Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach. The annual event seeks to promote awareness surrounding HIV and raise money for HIV testing, management, and education programming through the state.

Hosted by AIDS Delaware and the Delaware HIV Consortium, AIDS Walk Delaware is the oldest and largest HIV fundraiser in the state, drawing more than 600 attendees in previous years, according to an Aug. 9 press release. The theme of this year’s walk is “Step Up, Step Out: Remove Stigma, Eliminate HIV, Improve Lives.”

Check-in will begin in each park at 9 a.m. with walks beginning at both locations at 10 a.m. Registration for the event is free, and those who raise $30 or more will receive a complimentary commemorative T-shirt.

In the press release, John Beckley, director of development and marketing for AIDS Delaware, noted that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected those living with HIV, who might have especially vulnerable immune systems.

“Many are struggling with isolation, depression and anxiety,” Buckley said in a statement. “This year, we walk with those folks in our hearts.”

“AIDS Walk Delaware is more important than ever,” the press release continued. “It is more important for people who have lived with compromised health for a long time. People who have just learned they are HIV-positive. People who love someone who is HIV-positive. People for whom the best and broadest prevention efforts still elude them.”

Those interested in participating in the walk, making a donation, or learning more can visit for more information.

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District of Columbia

Will D.C. host World Pride 2025 after Taiwan cancellation?

InterPride organizers mum on selection of new host city



(Photo by Andy Lain 多元的台灣 2014彩虹大遊行)

A surprise announcement last week by Taiwanese organizers of World Pride Taiwan 2025 that they have withdrawn their agreement to host the international Pride event has raised the immediate question of whether the event will be moved to Washington, D.C., which lost its bid to host the event to Taiwan.

Capital Pride Alliance, the group that organizes D.C.’s annual Pride events, submitted a bid for D.C. to become the host city last September with the support of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and city agencies that help organize large events.

World Pride Taiwan 2025 is the group that won its 2021 bid to host World Pride 2025 in the Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung. The group said in a statement that it decided to cancel its role as the host for World Pride following a dispute with InterPride, the U.S.-based international organization that founded and administers World Pride, and that selects the host city.

World Pride, an international event that takes place every two years, draws thousands of participants from throughout the world to the host city. 

Although disagreements had surfaced over whether World Pride Taiwan had the economic capacity to host an international event like World Pride, the group said in its statement that the issue that prompted the cancellation was InterPride’s insistence that the name “Taiwan” could not be used in the title of the event and only the name World Pride Kaohsiung 2025 could be used.

According to the statement, the name “Taiwan Pride” has symbolic significance for the Taiwanese LGBTQ community, among other reasons, because all the island nation’s Pride events since 2003 have used the name Taiwan Pride.

In its own statement, InterPride said all past World Pride events have used the name of the host city rather than the country in which the city is located. In its statement, it said it offered a compromise allowing Taiwanese organizers to call the event “World Pride Kaohsiung, Taiwan,” a claim Taiwanese organizers dispute.   

The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately reach an official or spokesperson for InterPride to determine whether it plans to reopen the bidding process to select another city to host World Pride 2025 or whether it would invite D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance to host the event on behalf of D.C.

Capital Pride Alliance submitted what it said was a comprehensive bid last September calling on InterPride to select D.C. as the World Pride 2025 host. Capital Pride and the Taiwanese group were the only two organizations to submit a bid for World Pride 2025.

When InterPride announced last November that it had selected the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung to host the international event, Capital Pride issued a statement congratulating Kaohsiung Pride and World Pride Taiwan 2025 for winning the bid.

Ryan Bos, the Capital Pride Alliance executive director, told the Blade on Wednesday that as of early this week InterPride had not contacted Capital Pride Alliance about the Taiwanese group’s decision to cancel the event. He said Capital Pride learned about the cancellation from news media reports.

Asked if Capital Pride plans to reactivate its bid to host World Pride 2025, Bos did not offer a direct answer.

“We definitely need to have conversations about it,” he said. “We definitely would be open to the conversation. Our team put in a lot of time and effort to put together a very comprehensive and strong bid,” Bos said. “D.C. is a worthy destination, and we can truly make a major impact on the world stage by hosting an event such as this,” Bos said. “So, we would be open to entertaining the conversation.”

Bos pointed to Capital Pride’s announcement at the time it submitted its bid to host World Pride 2025 last September that hosting the event in 2025 would come at a time when Capital Pride plans to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D.C.’s first LGBTQ Pride event in 1975, which began as a block party near Dupont Circle.

“So, though we were not selected last fall, we have been moving forward in organizing an international Pride event for 2025 on the world stage for our 50th anniversary,” Bos said. “So, regardless of what happens, we will be continuing down that path.”

Bos said Capital Pride Alliance officials will also be attending InterPride’s annual international conference this October in Guadalajara, Mexico, which is held each year in connection with InterPride’s role as an association of LGBTQ Pride organizations throughout the world. Bos said the issue of selecting a new host city for World Pride 2025 could emerge as a topic of discussion at that conference.

World Pride Taiwan 2025 organizers said in their statement that InterPride did not insist on leaving out the name Taiwan in the title of the event during the bidding process last year and at the time InterPride decided to select the Taiwanese group to host the event in Kaohsiung. The group also disputes InterPride’s claim that it offered a compromise to include the name Taiwan along with Kaohsiung in the event’s title.

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Delaware to open monkeypox vax clinics in Rehoboth, Wilmington

State expands access per CDC recommendations



CAMP Rehoboth is hosting a vaccine clinic next week. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rehoboth and Wilmington, Del. will host monkeypox vaccination clinics next week after the Delaware Division of Public Health authorized the administration of one-fifth of the original vaccine dosage — per federal recommendations — on Monday.

On Aug. 23 CAMP Rehoboth, a local LGBTQ organization, will host a vaccine clinic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in its community center at 37 Baltimore Ave. An additional vaccine clinic will be held on Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Wilmington on the ground floor of the city’s Community Service Building at 100 West 10th St.

According to a Tuesday CAMP Rehoboth news release, individuals “engaging in high-risk activities” should consider vaccination against monkeypox, namely men who have sex with men or anonymous sexual partners, trans and non-binary individuals assigned male at birth who have sex with men, sex workers, and staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs. 

To receive a vaccine at the Rehoboth clinic, individuals must register in advance by calling 302-227-5620 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. To receive a vaccine at the Wilmington clinic, individuals must register in advance by calling 302-652-6776 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Two hundred slots are available at each clinic, and second doses will be administered on Sept. 20 in Rehoboth and Sept. 22 in Wilmington at the same time as the initial vaccination appointment.

The two-dose vaccination series is not considered effective until two weeks after the second dose, CAMP Rehoboth noted in a Tuesday news release. The vaccine, JYENNOS, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but may not provide protection to those who have received a smallpox vaccine more than three years ago, the news release added.

In addition, as of Monday, individuals living with HIV or taking pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV are eligible for vaccine access, and can contact their healthcare providers or DPH at 866-408-1899 to receive a vaccination appointment.

The state’s decision to expand vaccine access follows national trends, and comes after local and national organizations advocated for increased action from the Centers for Disease Control to combat the spread of the virus. On Aug. 12, more than 150 LGBTQ centers and organizations across the country, including Delaware’s Sussex Pride, signed a letter to the CDC in favor of “increasing the number of available vaccines” and expanding current data and testing on the virus nationally. As of Aug. 5, Delaware has administered 33 doses of the monkeypox vaccine, according to a DPH news release.

For more information, individuals can contact the DPH hotline for monkeypox-related questions and concerns on weekdays from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 866-408-1899, or email [email protected]. Information concerning monkeypox prevention programs and resources can be found at

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