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Maryland high court OKs same-sex divorce

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 24, 2012 | 10:49 pm

Maryland does not recognize same-sex marriage, but last week the state’s highest court said that if a same-sex couple legally married in another state sought a divorce in Maryland court, then Maryland would have to grant it. From the ABA Journal:

The court, in a 7-0 ruling (PDF), said Maryland courts should withhold recognition of a valid foreign marriage only if that marriage is “repugnant” to state public policy. It said that threshold is a high bar that had not been met in the case before it.

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“A valid out-of-state same-sex marriage should be treated by Maryland courts as worthy of divorce, according to the applicable statutes, reported cases, and court rules of this state,” Judge Glenn T. Herrell wrote for the court.

What caught my eye was the court’s saying that a same-sex marriage was not repugnant to state public policy—even though state public policy does not permit same-sex marriage. If this logic was in fact flawed, it would be odd coming from a 7-0 decision.

Possibly the rationale is that though same-sex marriage is against Maryland public policy, recognizing it does not rise to the level of being “repugnant” and, furthermore, it is balanced against the public policy interest in not forcing an unhappy couple to remain married.

But what the Maryland high court right to do this?

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