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How to get married in D.C., Maryland & Delaware

You’re considering taking the plunge?

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gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Maryland, Clayton Zook, Wayne MacKinzie, Tilghman Island, gay news, Washington Blade
Clayton Zook, Tracy Staples, Wayne MacKenzie, gay news, Washington Blade, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, Maryland, Tilghman Island

Marriage equality expanded throughout the mid-Atlantic in 2013 with Maryland and Delaware joining D.C. in allowing same-sex couples to wed. Clayton Zook and Wayne MacKenzie tied the knot on New Year’s Day in 2013 on Tilghman Island. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

So you’re considering taking the plunge, but do you know exactly how to get married? Where to obtain a license? Where it’s legal?

The good news for D.C.-area couples is that you have three local options for tying the knot, as same-sex marriage is legal in D.C., Maryland and Delaware. Virginia lags but two lawsuits are working their way rapidly through the courts and could lead to marriage equality in the commonwealth in the not-too-distant future.

All couples, including same-sex couples, planning to get married in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware must first obtain a marriage license at a designated government office or courthouse.

Each of the three jurisdictions provides couples with the option of getting married at a courthouse or county government office in a civil ceremony performed by an official appointed by the jurisdiction. The couples may also select a member of the clergy to perform the marriage at a religious institution or other location of the couple’s choosing.

 

District of Columbia

Marriage Bureau

D.C. Superior Court

500 Indiana Ave., N.W., Room 4555

Washington, D.C.

 

• One or both of the parties or a designated surrogate must come to the Marriage Bureau to complete a marriage license application.

• Identification and proof of age is required for both parties in the form of a government-issued ID such as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport.

• The minimum age for marriage in D.C. is 18. Persons of the age of 16 or 17 may marry with the consent of a parent or guardian.

• The marriage license application fee is $35 and the marriage certificate fee is $10. All fees must be paid in cash or by money order payable to the Clerk, D.C. Superior Court.

• Previous marriage information is required from both parties, such as documentation of a divorce or the death of a former spouse and the state or jurisdiction of the previous marriage.

• Religious celebrants and judges other than those of the D.C. courts must be authorized by the court and registered by the Marriage Bureau in order to perform a legal marriage in D.C.

• The full name of the intended celebrant must be given at the time the application is submitted.

• A recently enacted D.C. law, the Marriage Officiant Amendment Act of 2013, allows the couple getting married to select any adult to perform their marriage as a “temporary officiant.” The new law also allows the couple to perform their own marriage. The law applies only for marriage ceremonies performed outside the courthouse.

• Under a separate, longstanding D.C. law, three full days must pass between the time the marriage license application is submitted and the time the license can be issued. One or both members of the couple or a designee must return in person to pick up the license. The license has no expiration date.

• At the time the marriage license application is submitted, a request for a civil wedding at the courthouse may be made. A clerk will schedule the ceremony with a court official who will perform the marriage on or close to a date selected by the couple but not sooner than 10 business days after the license is issued.

• The marriage ceremony room accommodates approximately 10 to 15 guests. There is no fee for the ceremony.

 

Maryland

 

• Marriage licenses in Maryland are issued by the Clerk of the Circuit Court in each of the state’s 23 counties and the City of Baltimore, which is treated as a county. The fee for a marriage license varies from county to county but is usually within the range of $35 to $55.

• Maryland law requires that the marriage license be obtained from the Circuit Court in the county where the marriage is to take place regardless of the place of residence of the couple to be married.

• The marriage license must be obtained at least 48 hours before the marriage ceremony. Couples may seek a waiver of the two-day waiting period from a judge, and military service or illness is considered grounds for a possible waiver.

• A divorced person must provide a copy of the divorce decree that shows where and when the divorce took place. A license cannot be processed without this information.

• Identification for both parties, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, or military I.D. must be presented at the time the application is submitted.

• In some counties, such as Montgomery County near D.C., out-of-state residents may obtain a license application form by email for a fee of $55. The application must be returned along with the fee by mail. In Montgomery County, officials will mail the license to the couple.

• A marriage license in Maryland expires in six months if the couple doesn’t marry within that time.

• In many counties, a judge, Clerk of the Circuit Court or a designated deputy clerk of the court are available to perform civil marriage ceremonies at the courthouse for a fee. Couples interested in a civil ceremony by the court should contact the Circuit Court in the county in which they plan to marry.

• An individual of the age of 16 or 17 must present proof of consent of a parent or guardian in order to obtain a marriage license. An individual of the age of 16 or 17 that doesn’t have parental permission and an individual at age 15 may be granted a marriage license if a licensed physician provides a certificate stating that the woman to be married is pregnant or has given birth to a child.

 

Delaware

 

• Marriage licenses in Delaware are issued by the County Clerk’s Office in each of the state’s three counties – New Castle County (Wilmington), Kent County (Dover), and Sussex County (Georgetown, which is near Rehoboth Beach).

• The couple must appear together at the county clerk’s office to apply for the license and must bring identification such as a driver’s license or birth certificate to confirm their identities.

• There is a one-day waiting period for obtaining the marriage license upon completion of the application for state residents and a four-day waiting period for out-of-state residents. The license is valid for 30 days.

• The application fee ranges from $30 to $100 depending on the county.

• In Sussex County a marriage license can be applied for online for an additional processing fee of $14.95. However, it must be picked up in person by both applicants at the Sussex County Marriage Bureau. It may be used anywhere in the state.

• Applicants must be at least 18 years old to be eligible for a marriage license. If either applicant is under the age of 18 they are considered minors and must petition the Delaware Family Court for authorization to marry.

• An original copy of a divorce decree or annulment decree is required for individuals who have been divorced or whose marriage has been annulled in order to be eligible for a marriage license in Delaware.

• If either applicant is on probation or parole, they must obtain written permission to marry from their probation or parole officer.

• In Sussex County, the Clerk of the Peace John Brady is available to perform “Memorable Marriage” ceremonies any day of the week and at any location within Sussex County, according to information on the Sussex County website, www.sussexcountyde.gov.

• Under state law, a witness is required to be present during a wedding ceremony. In Sussex County, the office of Clerk of the Court Brady has arranged for volunteers – including some associated with the Rehoboth Beach LGBT community center, CAMP Rehoboth, to serve as witnesses with a non-mandatory contribution suggested for the center.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Bobby Oliver

    February 16, 2014 at 12:08 am

    John and I got married in New Hampshire. No waiting period required,.

  2. Peter-Nicholas Fragasso

    February 17, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Best of luck to all you guys and gals.

  3. Marcus Willis

    February 17, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I got Married in PG county the fee was 75, and they give you everything right then and just tell you to wait the 2 days.

  4. Tim Bernadzikowski

    February 18, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I believe Massachusetts has a 3-day waiting period. We thought about getting married last summer in P-town, but decided to wait and do it in our state of residence, MD!

  5. Rev Kirsten Blom-Westbrook

    March 3, 2014 at 12:16 am

    Just a few corrections: The Marriage Bureau at the DC Superior Court is located in room 4485, not 4555. You MAY pay related court fees by debit or credit card or via cash. Certified checks or Money orders are accepted for certified copies through the mail. Finally, whomever is designated to pick up the prepared license MUST have the receipt that shows the associated fees were paid.

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Real Estate

My Best Of’s in D.C. real estate

Favorites in buyer programs, paint colors, and more

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Forget shiplap, wallpaper is back!

As I congratulate my colleagues and friends who have received the coveted Best of Gay DC awards, I thought it appropriate to share with you my own, subjective “Best of” list. 

Best Housing to Buy. With 233 of them on the market in D.C., the one-bedroom, one-bath condominium under $400,000 may be the best option for a personal residence or investment. Given a median price of $320,000 and 49 days on the market, there are deals to be made. You have your choice of areas around the city and of buildings large and small.

Best First-time Buyer Program. D.C.’s Housing Purchase Assistance Program (HPAP) is by far the best option to use if you are eligible. This program is based on household income and size and can provide up to $84,000 toward the purchase of a D.C. personal residence. For example, to receive the full amount, the income of a party of two is limited to a total of $51,600, 50% of the median family income for D.C. Other requirements may apply.

Best Tax Reduction Program. If you qualify, you may be able to take advantage of the DC Tax Abatement Program. Using the example of our party of two working adults buying a personal residence for less than $516,800, the income limit is $79,020 or $113,500 in designated Economic Development Zones.

Approval for the program exempts buyers from paying property taxes for up to five years and reduces the closing costs for the purchase by eliminating the buyer-paid recordation taxes and distributing the seller-paid transfer taxes to the buyer instead of to the DC tax office. For the buyer of that $516,800 personal residence, that can mean a savings of nearly $15,000 in closing costs.

Best Neutral Paint Color. First it was Builder Beige, then Gray was OK, then they blended into Good Grief Greige. While neutrals can be bland and boring, these days, expect to see a variety of off-whites gracing the walls of homes for sale. Sherman Williams 7008, Alabaster, did the trick for my most recent sellers. 

Best Wall Décor. Sponge paint and other effects are long gone. Forget shiplap unless you live in a house at the beach or on an actual ship. Distressed wood may still be suitable for a cabin in the woods, but in a modern, urban setting, wallpaper is back, baby! 

This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper. No chickens, tiny prints, borders, or faux grass cloth are in sight. Today’s wallpapers are bold, geometric, or a throwback to mid-century modern and are primarily used on an accent wall so they’re not overwhelming. Love vs. Design (lovevsdesign.com) can create custom wallpaper to match your color scheme in a peel and stick application that eschews the mess of wallpaper paste.

Best Indoor Plant. For us plant growing novices, the award goes to The Easy Care Bundle at The Sill (thesill.com). For only $45, you get two potted succulents that are very hard to kill, a Snake Plant and a ZZ Plant. 

You can also set yourself up on a subscription. $60 plus a $10 shipping charge buys a medium sized plant-of-the-month with a black or cream-colored planter. Choose classic plants or select pet-friendly, non-toxic plants for only $5 more with a 3-month minimum subscription. You can even purchase these as gifts.

Best Balcony Plant. For homes with a balcony or a deck, the winner is a potted Winter Gem Boxwood. It’s an evergreen that will turn a golden shade in the winter then green again in the spring. It also grows in both full and partial shade – almost a set it and forget it type of shrub – needing water only once a week or twice in hotter climates. Cut it as a topiary à la Edward Scissorhands for a little architectural interest.

Best Freestanding Refrigerator. I would be remiss if I didn’t include a best appliance category.An upscale fridge with see-through doors and built-in versions of computers, televisions and smart home elements holds a certain appeal until one of the glitzy attractions breaks and you spend as much for a new motherboard as you would for a whole new refrigerator. 

The winner of this category, therefore, is Samsung’s model RF28R7351SR. This bad boy is available in both standard and counter depth and features a French door top with external water and ice, a pull-out freezer with dual baskets, and a middle drawer that can be set to one of four temperatures to accommodate food or wine.

There you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to judge the Best of Blake Miniature Schnauzers category. I’m thinking a 4-way tie is in order.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs

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Real Estate

Helpful tips for homebuyers in seller’s market

2021 has been a great year for home sales

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COVID-19 housing market, gay news, Washington Blade

Without question, 2021 was a great year for home sales. Sellers across the country, in many cases, found themselves listing their homes and quickly having not just one, but multiple offers, many of which were at asking price or above. With limited inventory and high demand, it has been an ideal year to sell—and conversely, often a difficult year to buy. Buyers who are interested in a particular home, or even in a specific neighborhood, often find themselves facing stiff competition to have offers accepted. 

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean that many buyers haven’t had successful and rewarding home buying experiences—just that doing so often means making an extra effort and taking helpful steps to make an offer the most competitive that it can be. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few helpful tips for buyers in a seller’s market:

  • Plan ahead with mortgage pre-approval: While there are certainly a wide variety of strategies that real estate agents and financial advisors may recommend, and while those strategies might vary depending upon the buyer and the circumstances of a particular market, one thing almost all experts agree on is that obtaining a mortgage preapproval is a smart decision. A mortgage preapproval is an ideal way to reassure sellers that a reputable lender has verified your credit and approved your buying power up to a certain limit. If you’re caught in a bidding war with another potential buyer, having preapproval establishing that you are ready, willing, and able to buy just might give you the advantage you need in a competitive market.
  • Be willing to look under budget so you can bid higher: In this highly competitive market, many home buyers find themselves in a situation where they are in a bidding war with another—or even several other—buyers. In that situation, you may find yourself having to make an offer at, or even in many cases, above, the asking price. This means that you may want to adjust your budget—and bidding—accordingly. Choosing to make an offer on a home that has an asking price that is already at the top of your budget may mean that you simply don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to making an offer over that price. Choosing a home slightly under the top of your budget means you’ll have more flexibility to make a bid that is more competitive and likely to be accepted.
  • Consider offering non-price-oriented incentives: Without question, making a highly competitive offer is going to be the key to increasing your chances of having that offer accepted. It’s important to remember that there is more to an offer than just price, however. Buyers may want to consider increasing the appeal of an offer by supplementing it with other incentives beyond just the dollar amount itself. Examples of such incentives might include things like foregoing the seller-paid home warranty that is often offered as part of the process, offering a shorter closing period, not making the purchase contingent upon the sale of a currently-owned home, or other such incentives. Doing so may give you the edge you need to have your offer selected over other competitive bids.
  • Retain the right real estate agent: Often, for LGBTQ buyers, especially in a competitive market, this piece of the puzzle is particularly important. In many, although certainly not all, cases LGBTQ buyers are drawn to specific areas of a city or community where other LGBTQ individuals live. That means that in a market where inventory is already limited and going quickly, there can be even fewer homes available upon which to bid. When that is the case, you will need a real estate agent who knows the community that you’re interested in, and who can quickly help you identify and take action toward making offers on homes that fit your needs. Having the right agent can make all the difference between a smooth and successful home-buying experience, and a stressful one

Jeff Hammerberg (he/him/his) is the Founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526, [email protected] or GayRealEstate.com

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Dining

Jane Jane brings throwback joy to busy 14th Street

Cocktail bar characterized by warm Southern hospitality

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(Photo courtesy of Deney Lam)

There is no standing at Jane Jane, the new classic cocktail bar in the heart of 14th Street. Its 850 square feet is for sitting and savoring, drinking in the relaxed retro vibe and the thoughtful craft cocktails. 

At the foot of the mixed-use Liz development where Whitman-Walker is the major tenant, Jane Jane’s creative use of a shoebox-sized space brings throwback joy to a busy thoroughfare. 

In the pre-COVID days of 2019, Whitman-Walker approached the Jane Jane owners, hospitality veterans Jean Paul (JP) Sabatier, Ralph Brabham and Drew Porterfield, all gay men, to make good use of the vacant parcel, and ensure it would be run by LGBTQ entrepreneurs. “It required some gymnastics because of the layout,” says Brabham, “but we came up with this cozy classic cocktail concept.” 

The hangout spot is an effort by the trio to “celebrate hospitality. We want everyone who walks into the space to feel like friends of ours we are having over for drinks or a bite. Its a cocktail party in our home,” he says. They felt connected to the idea of a tiny bar—a space where they would want to have a drink.

Named for Brabham’s mother, Jane Jane is as alluring and lively as it is intimate, each detail in the experience characterized by warm Southern hospitality—right from the bowl of spiced nuts that swiftly appear at each table at the beginning of service.

Sabatier, who has held stints at D.C. institutions like Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Maydan, and Compass Rose, oversees the bar and cocktail program, organized by spirit. (For their part, Brabham and Porterfield, romantic partners, also act as co-owners of Beau Thai and BKK Cookshop; Porterfield is also the current Curator and Director of Long View Gallery in Shaw.)

Sabatier has presented classic cocktails with a few noteworthy nods to current zeitgeist, as imagined by his lengthy experience behind the bar. The booklet-like menu includes a broad selection of familiar favorites like a Negroni, Manhattan, martini, but also features Sabatier’s handpicked favorite classics like the Boulevardier (a whiskey Negroni), Last Word (gin married to herbaceous green chartreuse) and Air Mail (rum, honey and cava). Drinks fall in the $13-$16 range; a “Golden Hour” runs daily until 7 p.m. featuring beer and wine specials and a punch of the day. 

Sabatier’s creative juices flow on the first page through cocktails like the vividly named Tears at an Orgy, with brandy, orange and maraschino, as well as the best-selling, highly Instagrammable Crop Top, a gin cocktail with a red-wine floater—and a name that matches the look of the bi-color drink. “It’s fun, delicious, and speaks to the space,” says Sabatier. He notes that their vodka of choice comes from Civic, a local, women- and LGBTQ-owned distillery.

Sabatier, a classically trained chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate, also oversees the small selection of bar bites (the space has no kitchen, part of the required “gymnastics” to make it functional.)

Beyond the complimentary vessel of rosemary-flecked mixed nuts, other bar snacks run from pickled vegetables to a Southern-style Pimento cheese dip and an onion dip creamy enough to make your grandmother blush. The “Jane’s Caviar” dish is a spread of trout roe and crème fraiche and comes with a towering mound of shatteringly crisp chips. A weekend brunch is in the works, which will serve goodies from local bakeries.

The retro-style interior recalls both California and the South, with only 32 seats inside and a 14-seat patio. Cozy booths done up in a hunter green as warm and inviting as a cool aunt are slung below walnut-wood walls and bar. Bright patterned tiles run the length of the floor; the back wall has playful cocktail wallpaper. A charming needlepoint by the restrooms kindly requests of guests, “please don’t do coke in the bathroom.”

The owners note that while Jane Jane is not explicitly a gay bar, its location in a traditionally gay-welcoming institution means that it has LGBTQ in its bones.

“Supporting LGBTQ people, businesses, and causes has been in Jane Jane’s ownership’s DNA at every establishment at which they have been involved,” they say, having supported local LGBTQ+ organizations like Casa Ruby, Victory Fund, SMYAL and the Human Rights Campaign, among others. 

Porterfield says that they were surprised that, given the locale, people assumed Jane Jane was a gay bar. “It’s not a gay or straight bar, just a fantastic cocktail bar that welcomes anyone to hang out with us,” he says. 

Nevertheless, the owners have taken into consideration the significance of being in the Liz development, as both gay men and as part of the hospitality industry. “It highlights the lack of representation as gay owners in this bar and restaurant world,” says Porterfield. They note the lack of women, LGBTQ and BIPOC representation. 

“It’s very special to us that we opened in this space,” says Porterfield, “so we want to show that we have opened a place that is all about inclusivity.”

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