December 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm EST | by Steve Charing
Couples begin receiving marriage licenses
Dale Knight, Jeff Arney, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

Dale Knight and Jeff Arney of Ellicott City were the first gay couple to obtain a marriage license in Howard County. (Photo courtesy of Dale Knight)

Dec. 6 marked yet another historic milestone in Maryland’s hard-fought journey for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Following Gov. Martin O’Malley’s certification of election results—a legal requirement that is executed 30 days after the election—in which same-sex marriage was upheld by 52 percent of the electorate through a referendum known as Question 6, 23 circuit courts throughout the state were able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Though marriages between same-sex couples cannot, by law, take effect until Jan. 1, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler issued an opinion that the clerks can provide the post-dated licenses beginning Dec. 6 following the governor’s certification.

“I never thought this day would come,” Kim Hinken told the Blade after she and her partner became the first couple to receive such a license at the Annapolis Courthouse. “I really imagined my life being just with a partner and never having a wife, so to have this day happen and to be a part of it, it means everything to us. It makes me feel really a part of society.”

Kim, who is the Planning Committee Chair of the Chesapeake Pride Festival, will likely marry her fiancée Adri Eathorne on Jan. 1, but the decision on the date has not yet been made. The couple has been together for more than 9 years and is living in Edgewater, Md.

Clerks in several jurisdictions reported there weren’t as many licenses sought on the first day as were expected. Some observers attribute that to couples preferring spring nuptials. Others say there was no rush to get them on the first day and others may have already obtained the licenses in D.C. or in some other location where same-sex marriages are valid.

Computer changes in processing and recording marriage licenses had to be implemented to reflect “Party 1” and “Party 2” instead of “Man” and “Woman.”

In addition, the work in Annapolis remains incomplete on marriage equality. There needs to be a change in the tax law that allows for joint filing of same-sex couples given that federal tax law does not permit that based on the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

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