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Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds Same-Sex Marriage 5/18/2012

Maryland Court of Appeals Upholds Same-Sex Marriage 5/18/2012

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Published by: David Moon on May 18, 2012
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05/18/2012

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 Jessica Port v. Virginia Anne Cowan
, No. 69, September Term, 2011
HEADNOTEFAMILY LAW – DIVORCE – RECOGNITION OF VALID FOREIGN SAME-SEXMARRIAGE
 
– DOCTRINE OF COMITY
: Under the common law doctrine of comity,a valid out-of-state marriage will be recognized in Maryland, for purposes of application of its domestic divorce laws, if it is not statutorily prohibited or “repugnant” to Maryland publicpolicy. The “repugnancy” threshold is very high. Maryland statutes do not treat as voidexpressly foreign same-sex marriages. Rather, a review of Maryland statutes and executivebranch policies demonstrates that recognizing valid foreign same-sex marriages is consistentwith Maryland public policy. Therefore, the parties’ valid California same-sex marriage iscognizable in this State for purposes of adjudicating a divorce complaint.
 
Circuit Court for Prince George’s CountyCase No. CAD10-22420
IN THE COURT OF APPEALSOF MARYLANDNo. 69September Term, 2011 JESSICA PORTv.VIRGINIA ANNE COWAN Bell, C.J.,HarrellBattagliaGreeneAdkinsBarberaRaker, Irma S., (Retired, SpeciallyAssigned),JJ. Opinion by Harrell, J. Filed: May 18, 2012
 
1
The essential feature of multiple personality disorder (also known as dissociativeidentity disorder) is the existence within a person of two or more distinct identities orpersonality states. American Psychiatric Association,
 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of  Mental Disorders
484 (4th. ed. 1994). There are at least two fully developed personalities,each having unique memories and behavior patterns.
 Id.
2
The General Assembly enacted, during the 2012 session, the Civil MarriageProtection Act (“CMPA”), H.B. 438, 2012 Leg., 429th Sess. (Md. 2012). The Governorsigned the bill into law on 1 March 2012. The law, when effective, will change § 2-201 [to(continued...)Appellant, Jessica Port, and Appellee, Virginia Anne Cowan, married in Californiain 2008. Approximately two years later, Port and Cowan agreed mutually to separate. Portfiled ultimately a divorce complaint, on the ground of voluntary separation, in the CircuitCourt for Prince George’s County (at the time, she was a resident of the County). Cowananswered the complaint in a “no contest” manner. The court denied the requested relief,explaining in its written order that the marriage was “not valid” and “contrary to the publicpolicy of Maryland.” Being aggrieved equally, the parties filed appeals timely, asking whyan out-of-state, same-sex marriage, valid when and where performed, was not cognizable inMaryland for purposes of the application of its domestic divorce laws.Putting aside for present purposes whatever may turn out to be the view of theMaryland electorate regarding recognition of the performance in Maryland of domestic same-sex marriages, the treatment given such relationships by the Maryland Legislature (untilrecently) may be characterized as a case of multiple personality disorder.
1
Exhibit One inthis lay diagnosis is the currently effective version of § 2-201 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code, defining marriage, for purposes of such ceremonies conducted inMaryland, as being only between a man and a woman.
2
 
See Conaway v. Deane
, 401 Md.

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