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04/19/2007


NY To Refund Estate Taxes Paid By Same-Sex Couples Prior To DOMA Ruling

Andrew CuomoThose familiar to the case that gutted DOMA, Windsor v. United States, know that the suit was prompted by the over $300,000 in extra estate taxes that Edie Windsor was forced to pay as the result of her deceased spouse being a member of the same sex. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in Windsor's favor, the state of New York is offering refunds to anyone else who might have found themselves in her situation. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the refunds Tuesday, citing the Supreme Court decision to render DOMA unconstitutional. Said refunds apply to any same sex couple considered legally married in the state of New York who were forced to pay any extra estate taxes as the result of DOMA. At present, the state has not made any estimates of exactly how much tax money will need to be repaid. 

Upon the announcement, Cuomo expressed his personal support of the refunds:

"This financial compensation is one more step toward justice for Edie Windsor, and all of the men and women who confronted similar indifference at a time of deep personal loss."

According to the Daily Journal (via AP)...

"A refund must be claimed within three years of the tax return or two years after the tax was overpaid. More information is available through the state's Taxpayer Information Center at 518-457-5387."


NY Senate Passes Landmark Gun Control Bill as Obama Prepares to Take Action Federally: VIDEO

Pc_obama

The New York Senate has passed a landmark gun control bill that would ban assault weapons, the NYT reports:

The state Senate, controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a handful of Democrats, approved the legislative package just after 11 p.m. by a lopsided vote of 43 to 18. The Assembly, where Democrats who have been strongly supportive of gun control have an overwhelming majority, planned to vote on the measure Tuesday...

..The expanded ban on assault weapons would broaden the definition of such weapons, banning semiautomatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military-style feature, as well as semiautomatic shotguns with one military-style feature. New Yorkers who already own such guns could keep them but would be required to register them with the state.

Also:

The legislative package, which Mr. Cuomo said he believed would be “the most comprehensive package in the nation,” would ban any gun magazine that can hold over 7 rounds of ammunition — the current limit is 10 rounds. It would also require background checks of ammunition buyers and automated alerts to law enforcement of high-volume purchases.

The legislation would increase penalties for multiple crimes committed with guns, would require background checks for most private gun sales, and create a statewide gun-registration database.

President Obama is expected to announce 19 separate executive actions he could take without the approval of Congress to limit access to guns and curtail gun violence, the NYT also reports, in a separate story:

Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, according to those briefed on the effort.

White House aides believe Mr. Obama can also ratchet up enforcement of existing laws, including tougher prosecution of people who lie on their background checks.

Watch Obama talk about possible executive orders on guns at his press conference yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NY Senate Passes Landmark Gun Control Bill as Obama Prepares to Take Action Federally: VIDEO" »


Former and Current NY Governors Blast Conservative Rabbi for Blaming Hurricane Sandy on Gay Marriage: AUDIO

Leter

Last week, Right Wing Watch reported on Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Decency, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on gay marriage in an October 30 radio interview:

Leiter asserted that the “the Great Flood in the time of Noah was triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages,” adding that there are similar “messages in this particular storm for us.” “The Lord will not bring another flood to destroy the entire world but He could punish particular areas with a flood, and if we look at the same-gender marriage recognition movement that’s occurring, that certainly is a message for us to learn,” he said. “We have to learn that the Lord does watch what we do and if we don’t shape up He will deliver divine justice.” Leiter also suggested that God flooded Lower Manhattan because it is “one of the national centers of homosexuality.”

Former NY Governor George Pataki blasted the rabbi's remarks over the weekend:

Pataki called on fellow Republican Neil DiCarlo — who is running on the Conservative Party line for a state Senate seat from the Hudson Valley — to denounce the remarks of Rabbi Noson Leiter. DiCarlo opposes gay marriage, and the orthodox rabbi made the statements in support of his third-party candidacy.

“It’s simply incomprehensible that anyone could attribute the devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Sandy to divine retribution against the New York State legislature,” Pataki railed.

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo piled on:

"The comments made by Rabbi Noson Leiter that sought to link the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy to our state's embrace of marriage equality are as offensive as they are ignorant. This catastrophic storm claimed the lives of more than forty New Yorkers. This kind of hateful rhetoric has no place in our public discourse, and is particularly distasteful in times of tragedy. Our state is proud to offer equal rights to all our citizens, and we will never tolerate the use of a tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to promote a divisive and bigoted agenda."

Listen to Leiter, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Former and Current NY Governors Blast Conservative Rabbi for Blaming Hurricane Sandy on Gay Marriage: AUDIO" »


New York City Subways At 80% Operation, Says MTA

FTrainMany feared it would be a few weeks before inter-borough travel would be restored in New York City post-Sandy, but we received some good news today.

Even though it may be a while before things get back to normal, Governor Cuomo and the MTA today announced some revived service, bringing operation up to about 80%.

From the NYDN:

Trains started picking up passengers again Saturday morning along the entire 4,5,6 and 7 lines, officials said. Full service will return later Saturday to the D, F, J and M lines, officials said.

The A train will run from 168 St. to Lefferts Blvd. beginning Monday but service to the Rockaways will not return for at least a month because the train bridge over Jamaica Bay was severely damaged.

Those of you in Williamsburg will still have to wait, as well, for the 14th Street L line remains flooded.


Free, Limited Subway Service For NYC Today

SubwayIt may still be weeks before New York City's subway tunnels damaged by Hurricane Sandy are completely restored, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that select lines, all above 34th street, are back in operation and free for the next few days.

The MTA offers the details:

The free service began just after midnight Thursday and will last until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, and will allow for free rides on the NYC Subway and Bus network, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad.  Free travel will also be available on Access-a-Ride.
 
“The gridlock we experienced yesterday shows that the New York metropolitan region is in a transportation emergency,” Governor Cuomo said. “To get people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I immediately authorized the MTA to suspend transit fares through the end of the work week.”

The fare free days coincide with the restoration of limited subway service set for this morning along segments of roughly half of the system's 26 lines.  With no electricity to power the third rail or to operate signals south of 36th Street, there will be no service between 34th St in Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Service will operate from the Bronx, Queens and Upper Manhattan to Midtown and from Queens and parts of Brooklyn to Downtown Brooklyn. 

Shuttle Buses will operate from Jay St-MetroTech, Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn and Hewes St in Williamsburg to 57th St & Lexington Ave via 3rd Ave.

Or there's always walking, which actually doesn't take that long and gives you a great view of the city.

[via Joe]


New York's Highest Court Rejects Evangelical Group's Challenge to State's Marriage Equality Law

The NY Daily News reports:

CuomoNew York's top court today refused to hear an appeal challenging the state's gay marriage law. Without explanation, the Court of Appeals denied a request to appeal by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical group.

....

The group argued that the Senate Republican majority violated the state open meetings law by meeting behind closed doors, including with Mayor Bloomberg, to discuss the issue.

A state appellate court in July unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and dismissed the case. Because the decision was unanimous, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms needed permission from the state's top court to continue its appeal, a request that was denied today.

Governor Andrew Cuomo hailed the decision:

Today, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State, denied leave to appeal the validity of the Marriage Equality Act, which affords same-sex couples in this State the right to marry. New York State has served as a beacon for progressive ideals and this statute is a clear reminder of what this State stands for: equality and justice for all. With the Court’s decision, same-sex couples no longer have to worry that their right to marry could be legally challenged in this State. The freedom to marry in this State is secure for generations to come.


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