Maryland speaker would like to see same-sex weddings commence Jan. 1

Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch leads the Pledge of Allegiance during a floor session last year. (Marvin Joseph — The Washington Post)

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Ultimately, it will be up to clerks of county courts to decide whether to issue marriage licenses early enough to accommodate gay couples who want to wed on New Year’s Day.

But one powerful Annapolis politician who supports same-sex marriage left little doubt Friday as to what he would like to see the clerks do.

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“I think everybody understood that ... January 1 would be the date that couples could marry,” House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) said in an interview. “You would think that the vast majority of the clerks would comply with letting people apply for the licenses before January 1.”

The new law takes effect Jan. 1.

Busch’s comments came a day after an opinion was issued by the Attorney General’s Office that said it is permissible for clerks to start processing marriage licenses a few days ahead of time to facilitate Jan. 1 marriages and comply with a waiting period in Maryland law.

The formal advice was issued in an attempt to clear up confusion in the wake of this month’s passage of Question 6, the ballot measure upholding Maryland’s gay nuptials law. Early word out of the attorney general’s office was that same-sex marriages in Maryland would likely not take effect until Jan. 4.

That’s because Maryland has a two-day waiting period once clerks issue licenses. With Jan. 1 being a holiday, that would mean licenses could not be issued until the following day.

 
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