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What the gay marriage decision means for Maryland couples

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Maryland began legally recognized same-sex marriage on Jan. 1, 2013. With this week’s historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, same-sex marriages that were performed in Maryland, or any other state, must now be recognized by all other states.

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it had reached a 5-4 ruling in favor of gay marriage after the gay marriage bans in four states were challenged as being unconstitutional.

Ultimately, in writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that gay and lesbian couples have a fundamental right to marry, guaranteed by the Constitution.

So what does this mean for same sex couples in Maryland?

Maryland residents will still have the same rights to marry and divorce in the state; however, if they move to any other state, these rights will be extended to their new state as well.

For the past several years, the inconsistent laws throughout the nation regarding same-sex marriage have presented problems.

In some cases, same-sex couples traveled to Maryland to be wed, and then returned to their home states, where their marriage was not recognized. In other cases, married same-sex couples from Maryland moved to other states where their union was not recognized.

In either case, obtaining a divorce when the relationship ended was in many cases impossible in states with gay marriage bans. With this week’s ruling, same-sex couples will have their marriages recognized in all states, thus making divorce an option in all states.

What the Supreme Court’s decision means is that every state must treat same-sex marriage the same. And really, there is no distinction between “gay marriage” and “heterosexual marriage” anymore. It’s all just “marriage.”

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