SALISBURY, Md.- It will be a happy beginning to the new year for some same-sex couples in Maryland.
Attorney General Doug Gansler will allow local courts to issue marriage licenses beginning on Dec. 6. However, those licenses will not take effect until Jan. 1.
Each separate county clerk has the choice of either accepting applications on Dec 6. for same- sex marriages or waiting until Jan. 2.
Wicomico County's Clerk of Court Mark Bowen said that he has decided to begin taking those applications on Thursday.
"Part of my reasoning is that the intent of the law was to allow same sex couples to marry on Jan. 1, 2013, and the only way to accomplish that is taking applications before that date," Bowen explained. "I'm expecting some people from Delaware may come down. I believe Delaware presently has a civil union and that was addressed in the attorney general's opinion as well. And the opinion said that anyone in a civil union can get married in Maryland."
Now that same-sex couples can marry in Maryland, some wedding planners and other wedding-related companies are seeing an increase in business.
Jodie Noonan of Amber Nicole's Bridal Shop in Salisbury said that she keeps her show room stocked full of wedding gowns and tuxedos.
She said that is especially important because now she is expecting an increase of same-sex couple customers looking to make it official.
"We have events booked as early as February for 2013 but they did know it was going to happen and they were just preparing for it," Noonan said about the same-sex marriage law, "And I think now after the first if the year I think it's going to be even larger."
Just down the hall from Noonan's shop, wedding planner Brian Townsend said that after Question 6, the referendum that legalized same-sex marriage was passed on Nov. 6, his appointment book has started getting-jam packed with same-sex couples booking wedding dates.
"Our website traffic has been through the roof since Question 6 has gone through," Townsend said. "We have seen an overwhelming amount of individuals in our shop just inquiring on what steps they need to take to make this happen."
David Wharton, who owns Cakes by David in Salisbury, said that cake toppers reflecting same-sex marriages are not an uncommon sight in his bakery but now the demand is high.
"Prior to the law it was quieter than it is now but perhaps this has made it at a little more at ease for people to actually come in and shop," Wharton said.
On Dec 6., Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to proclaim the recent referendum vote as accurate, essentially paving the way for same-sex marriages to officially get under way in Maryland.
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