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Same-Sex Marriages May Still Face Roadblocks in MD

Legislators may have cleared the path for same-sex couples to be married in Maryland, but couples may still face obstacles when they approach the courthouse.

In early December, an Edgewater couple became the first people to register for a same-sex marriage license in Anne Arundel County. 

Kim Hinken, 52, and her fiancé Adri Eathorne had been in a relationship for nearly 10 years without thinking they'd ever get married due to state law. However, all that changed when Maryland voters upheld a law legalizing gay marriage on Nov. 6. 

"It felt fantastic. It felt like a piece of history. I know that so many people have fought so hard to have this law be passed and it means everything to me," Hinken said after picking up her marriage license. 

But despite the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, people like Hinken and Eathorne may still face roadblocks in their pursuit of marriage—particularly because some public employees are asking to be excused from performing the ceremonies. 

As circuit courts across Maryland prepare for the first same-sex couples to wed as early as Jan. 1, reports arose that some employees were asking to be excused from being involved. 

Deputy clerks in St. Mary's County have asked to be excused citing their religious opposition to gay marriage, according to The Washington Examiner.

Circuit Court Clerk Joan Williams told The Examiner that she decided to excuse those employees from performing any marriage ceremonies, saying she respects their decision.

Maryland voters upheld a law legalizing gay marriage on Nov. 6. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, but Circuit Courts across Maryland were closed. The first time same-sex couples will be able to wed at courthouses starts Wednesday.

None of the eight employees who perform marriages at the Anne Arundel Circuit Court House in Annapolis have asked for any exemptions from their marriage duties, Clerk Robert Duckworth said.

Patch was unable to reach circuit court clerks in Baltimore County or Baltimore City.

While Anne Arundel County employees appear on board, the first couples to the courthouse on Jan. 2 may face large, loud crowds.

The controversial Westboro Baptist Church protested outside of the court Wednesday morning. But a large counter-protest demonstration also attended, in hopes of drowning out the Westboro members' anti-gay rhetoric. 

Anne Arundel County's approval of the law was 53 percent on Nov. 6. 

Kim Cooke January 02, 2013 at 10:05 PM
What a shame that people have to be so stubborn. This is a governmental body in the United States of America. The law is the law and they are, presumably, sworn to uphold it.
Harry Balzonia January 03, 2013 at 01:35 AM
I certainly hope those public servants are fired for refusing to perform their sworn duties. It's not their decision to make... either do your job or quit and allow someone who will put their personal feelings aside and do what they're paid to do.
Vikram Anand January 03, 2013 at 06:00 AM
Found a perfect solution for gay social networking. Check out my blogpost: http://pozitronconsultancy.com/blog/2013/01/03/gay-rights-and-their-freedom/ for details
Penni Lynne January 08, 2013 at 02:41 PM
I believe in these clerks right to refuse. We all have our beliefs, and we choose to stick by them as well. Although I don't agree with their mindset, they have a right to choose as well! BUT****PLEASE REMEMBER! There are alternatives out there! There are WONDERFUL, open minded peopl like myself, who are more than happy to perform a ceremony for the community. A personal friend of mine does them all the time. I am proud to be surrounded by him, his wonderful church, and beautiful friends, as well as the Chesapeake Pride Festival that they help organize every year. I just found this on his FaceBook page, and hope you will contact him if you need, or know someone who needs a ceremony performed! And you can contact me, *Penni Lynne* personally if you would like "LBGT Friendly" Musicians, DeeJays, Performers, or Event planners!!! coming soon, the new WWW! WeddingsWithWayne.com. The site is under construction but will be up soon with Washington DC and Maryland information for ALL PEOPLE wanting to get married, regardless of gender! Wedding ceremonies planned with YOU in mind. Celebrating your love, your way! Spiritual, civil, Christian tradition or progressive. Formal or Informal. Large or small. Whatever your wishes I will work for you to celebrate the way you wish. Call me at 410-353-5534 or 202-253-9828!

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