Same-Sex Marriage in Maryland

Last week, Maryland took steps to join the District of Columbia and eight other states in legalizing the marriage of same-sex couples. The Maryland Senate passed the measure 25-22 following an equally contentious vote on the measure in the House of Delegates, clearing the way for Governor Martin O’Malley’s signature (an official signing ceremony has yet to be announced). While advocates of same-sex marriage are hailing the passage of the bill as a landmark step in protecting individual civil marriage rights, opponents are already proposing a voter referendum to repeal the measure (they will need to collect around 56,000 signatures prior to June 30th in order to place the repeal measure on the ballot for this November’s elections). With a similar measure passing the legislature of New Jersey earlier this year, only to be vetoed by the governor, the future of same-sex marriage in Maryland is far from certain.

While same-sex marriage may in fact become a reality in the state of Maryland, the eventual challenges to the measure place Maryland same-sex couples in a type of purgatory, awaiting the resolution of legal challenges before having the certainty that the rights they enjoy today will not be taken away tomorrow. This underscores the importance of estate planning for same-sex couples – planning for the future is wraught with risk and uncertainty as to the rights same-sex couples will enjoy so why wait for the law to set the default rules for your estate when you can make them known today? Be proactive – create an estate plan that ensures that you and your partner’s final wishes will be respected.

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