NY: Out of State Same-Sex Marraiges Are Legal
May 12, 2008
This victory nearly slipped under the radar. New York's highest court decided not to review a ruling in February that same-sex marriages performed elsewhere (Massachusetts and Canada, for instance, where Kate and I married), must be recognized by the state.
In a cryptically worded one-sentence order issued on May 6, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest, declined, for the time being at least, to review a February 1 appellate court ruling out of Rochester that a lesbian couple, Patricia Martinez and Lisa Ann Golden, who married in Canada in 2004 are entitled to legal recognition of that marriage by Monroe Community College, Martinez's employer.
Since the Rochester ruling is the only New York appellate court ruling - coming from the Appellate Division's 4th Department - on the marriage recognition question issued to date, the decision stands as legal precedent statewide unless contradicted by one of the other appellate departments or reversed by the Court of Appeals.
The Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's statewide LGBT lobby group, taking note of that precedent, was quick to claim victory from the high court demurring on the issue.
"Today's action by New York's highest court means that the state of the law remains the same," said Alan Van Capelle, ESPA's executive director, in a written statement. "Same-sex couples who have gone to places like Canada to get married, or have moved to New York from places like Massachusetts, will continue to be treated as the married couples they are here in New York."Legislation that would officially legalize marriage equality within the state is still pending, and the key is to ensure there is a pro-marriage majority in the state Senate, and that means turning that body over to Democratic control in the fall.
"Until a law is passed by the New York State Legislature, there will always be the possibility that another court decision could undo Martinez v. County of Monroe and strip away from otherwise legally married same-sex couples all of the 1,324 state-based rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license in New York," Van Capelle said in his written statement. "Besides, no loving, committed couple should ever have to leave their home state to make sure that their family has the protection and stability of marriage."