After Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the gay marriage bill into law in March 2012, anti-marriage-equality activists collected enough signatures to put it on the November ballot. Fortunately for us, their scheme to overturn the freedom to marry failed, and couples will soon have the opportunity to marry in Maryland. For those of you who are planning to tie the knot in the Free State, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
When does gay marriage go into effect in Maryland?
Same-sex couples will begin having legally recognized marriage ceremonies on January 1, 2013.
Do I have to live in Maryland to get married there?
No, anyone can apply for a marriage license in Maryland. There is no residency requirement.
Where can I apply for a marriage license?
You can apply at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county in which you plan to marry. If, however, it is not convenient for you to visit the Clerk's Office in that county, you may apply using a Non-Resident Affidavit. Affidavits are available online at the Calvert, Kent, and Queen Anne's Circuit Court Clerks' websites. Or obtain one from either your county or from the county in which you plan to marry.
Only one partner needs to be present unless you are applying through a non-resident affidavit.
Is a blood test required?
Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license?
There is a waiting period of 48 hours after the license is issued.
How soon after applying for a license can I get legally married?
Are there witnesses required in order to get legally married?
No witnesses are required.
How much is the marriage license application fee?
The fee is $35-$85, depending on the county, cash only.
How long is the marriage license valid for?
The license is valid for six months.
Can I apply online for a marriage license?
You can apply for a Non-Resident Affidavit online.
What paperwork is required when I apply for my marriage license?
Picture ID such as a driver's license or passport. You should know your Social Security numbers and the state and county in which both of you were born.
Who can officiate the marriage ceremony?
Official of a religious order or a deputy clerk or a judge.
If I don't live in Maryland, will my marriage be recognized by my home state?
It depends on where you live, but in most cases, probably not. It will be recognized in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa, New York and D.C.
Is my Maryland gay marriage recognized by the U.S. federal government?
Unfortunately, no it is not.
If I get legally married in Maryland, will I still need special legal paperwork to protect my family?
Yes, if you plan to travel with your partner beyond Maryland state, it will be necessary for you to hire an attorney to draw up paperwork to protect your family in case something happens in a state where your marriage is not recognized. Read our expert advice on how to legally protect your relationship and children.
Is a divorce decree required?
Yes, if previously married, you will need to show proof of how the marriage ended, i.e. a divorce judgment or a death certificate. These must be certified copies.
How do I change my name?
You'll be asked your new last name on the marriage application. Once you receive your official copy of your marriage license, you can use that document to change your name on social security card, driver's license etc., if you live in the state of Maryland. If you live out of state, and in a state where your marriage is not legally recognized, it's much harder and will, in most cases, require a judge's order. Read our editor-in-chief's account of what it was like taking her partner's last name in Georgia.
Brittny Drye is the senior editor of Equally Wed, the nation's premier online magazine for gay and lesbian weddings and honeymoons. Follow her @BrittnyDrye.
Photo: Real Wedding Cynthia and Dana, photography by Hudson River Photographer
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