The highest court in Maryland has ruled today that while the state recognises only heterosexual marriages, gay couples married in other states can have their marriages dissolved in the state.

The Court of Appeals delivered a unanimous 7-0 verdict in a case that was brought about by two women who were married in California, but were denied a divorce two years ago by a Maryland judge.

According to the ruling: “A valid out-of-state same-sex marriage should be treated by Maryland courts as worthy of divorce, according to the applicable statues, reported cases, and court rules of this state.”

What effect this will have in the long-term is unknown, as Maryland is set to introduce equal marriage, and by extension, divorce, from January, though opponents are hoping to gather the required 56,000 signatures by the end of June to put the question on the ballot.

However, attorneys for the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling, as it is predicated on the assumption that Maryland will recognise same-sex unions from other states, even should the equal marriage bill be defeated in a putative referendum.

In recent years, judges in NebraskaRhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Texas have refused to grant gay couples divorces. Responding to these cases, California and the District of Columbia recently passed laws allowing gay couples married in their jurisdictions to divorce there if their home state will not annul or dissolve their marriage.