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Gansler: Gay marriage licenses can be issued before Jan. 1 if not effective until 2013

Maryland’s attorney general says clerks of court can begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses before Jan. 1, when the law is scheduled to take effect, so long as the effective date of the license is for the first of the year.

Attorney General Doug Gansler released the 19-page opinion on Thursday.

Maryland’s same-sex marriage law was approved by voters last month. Questions have been raised about how that date affects when couples could first get a license, partly because Jan. 1 is a holiday when courts would be closed.

Technically, Gansler says clerks may begin issuing marriage licenses after the law is formally proclaimed to have been approved by the voters on Dec. 6. But Gansler also notes that a clerk could choose not to issue licenses until Jan. 2.