NY High Court Upholds Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages

A challenge to New York's recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere has failed in a 4-3 ruling by the state's highest court, the Ithaca Journal reports:

Ny "The state Court of Appeals rejected a Christian legal group’s claim that the extension of benefits to gay couples was illegal based on current state law.

But the court stopped short of declaring same-sex marriage in New York legal, saying that such a decision should be left to the state Legislature. The state Senate has yet to pass the measure.

'We end … expressing our hope that the Legislature will address this controversy,' the ruling found.

The Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz. argued that since same-sex marriage is not legal in New York, state and local governments should not extend equal benefits to gay couples."

The NY Times reports: "One of the cases involved the State Department of Civil Service, which in 2007 extended health insurance benefits to the partners of state and local workers who were married out of state.

Another case involves a similar policy in Westchester County. In 2006, the county executive, Andrew J. Spano, ordered county officials to recognize same-sex unions performed elsewhere.

Advocates on both sides were not immediately available for comment.

The two cases are narrower in scope than — but touch upon — a broader effort to have the state government recognize gay marriages."


  1. says

    This ruling is disappointingly narrow. All it says is that it’s not illegal for government agencies in New York to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. It does not force government agencies in the state to do so if they choose not to.

  2. Philly says

    The ruling is actually unanimous. The 4-3 decision is on the groounds for the ruling. The majority wanted the narrow grounds for the ruling, while the minority wanted the broader grounds that same-sex marriages performed elsewhere ough to be recognized under rules of commity.

  3. Brian says

    Following on to Chris’s point, the concurrences actually FAVORED same-sex couples. The concurring judge wrote (per the NYT):

    Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, who wrote the concurring decision, said “that the orders under review should be affirmed on the ground that same-sex marriages, valid where performed, are entitled to full legal recognition in New York under our state’s longstanding marriage recognition rule.”

    If Judge Ciparick had one more vote for her concurrence, the majority opinion would have been that New York must recognize out of state marriages of same sex couples. When you look at it like this, it sort of looks more like a loss than a win.

  4. Glenn says

    Yeah, the press writeups are (as usual with legal issues) pretty crappy. The bottom line is this: Short of the legislature actually enacting same-sex marriage in NY, the real prize is to have the NY courts apply the common-law marriage recognition rule — i.e., that marriages legal where performed are to be recognized in NY even if not legal here — to same-sex marriages. To do so would essentially allow NYers to go to CT, MA, etc. and get married and it would be the same as if they got married here. This ruling punted on that question and resolved on a much narrower issue, so the marriage recognition issue is still very much up in the air here.

  5. Brian from Tucson says

    It may be a narrow ruling, but still very good news whenever the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale loses a case. These bigoted busy bodies have deep pockets and have been working overtime to deny gay rights. I am wearing a big smile seeing them lose this one.

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