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NY Judge Recognizes Gay Marriages From Canada

Homer Simpson performs gay marriage New York Judge Recognizes Gay Marriages From CanadaWhile New York does not allow gay marriage, it must recognize marriages performed elsewhere — even other countries — a appeals court judge has ruled.

A New York appellate court ruled Friday that valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples must be legally recognized in New York, just as the law recognizes those of heterosexual couples solemnized elsewhere. Lawyers for both sides said the ruling applied to all public and private employers in the state.

Even though gay couples may not legally marry in New York, the appellate court in Rochester held that a gay couple’s 2004 marriage in Canada must be respected under the state’s longstanding “marriage recognition rule,” and that an employer’s denial of health benefits had discriminated against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“The Legislature may decide to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages solemnized abroad,” a five-judge panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled unanimously in rejecting a 2006 lower court decision. “Until it does so, however, such marriages are entitled to recognition in New York.”

For more than a century, the court noted, New York State has recognized valid out-of-state marriages. Moreover, it said that the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest judicial body, has said the Legislature may enact laws recognizing same-sex marriages. “In our view, the Court of Appeals thereby indicated that the recognition of plaintiff’s marriage is not against the public policy of New York,” the court held.

While I don’t claim any expertise in New York law, the ruling strikes me as reasonable. If the state recognizes heterosexual marriages performed in Canada, why wouldn’t the same principle apply to homosexual marriages?

Further, the judge’s decision here isn’t final: This isn’t a constitutional right that the court is conferring if the legislature has the power to overturn it with black letter law.

Still, this illustrates the impetus behind the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the rush to amend state constitutions across the country on this matter. While I continue to believe that gay marriage will be legal across the land in the foreseeable future, the law is currently ahead of the culture.

Image: Jerome Aronson via Google

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. JimT says:

    WOW! I can’t wait to bring my three fiances to Saudi Arabia – get hitched and then get a little place in Rochester!
    For the record – I’m not against gay marriage. I’m against courts directing our citizens (ie the employers) to recognize these marriages based on another country’s decision and not on the decision of the people of New York.
    The best thing (in my opinion) would be for the state and federal governement to get completely out of the marriage business. Stop requiring a legal document of marriage. Instead of trying to figure out how to regulate more people’s personal life, let’s de-regulate the whole darn thing.

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  2. Ah yes — the obligatory polygamy/bestiality/incest comment regarding recognition of same-sex marriages. Glad I wasn’t disappointed there.

    I think that Jim T has missed the point of what courts are for. Since NY State has NOT enacted any type of legislation or mini-DOMA, the court simply ruled on the laws that exist. They didn’t make any new laws, nor did they interpret the law based on their own political or religious belief.

    If we can’t count on the courts to INTERPRET LAW then who can we count on?

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  3. Triumph says:

    While I don’t claim any expertise in New York law, the ruling strikes me as reasonable. If the state recognizes heterosexual marriages performed in Canada, why wouldn’t the same principle apply to homosexual marriages?

    Great–We are letting the immoral Canadians undermine the basis of our civilization.

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  4. Thank you Triumph, I had forgotten the typical “undermine the very core of civilization” argument that usually follows any positive step forward the gay/lesbian community makes as citizens in this great nation.

    What I love is that it’s always just stated. Never validated with facts, statistics, or anything else.

    Just “I say so, therefore it’s so.”

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  5. floyd says:

    “”If we can’t count on the courts to INTERPRET LAW then who can we count on?””
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    The courts have a long history of supporting perversion, when it fits the current agenda.
    Consider the fact that the same sources and courts were used to justify the extradition of fugitive slaves.

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  6. So Floyd because YOU say it’s fact, it’s fact, right?

    I say so, therefore it’s so?

    You haven’t even read the decision have you? The decision is based on existing New York Law and nothing more. Were you to read that decision, you’d see that or you’d present a coherent, articulate argument, substantiating your assertions with the proper citations. You’re just pissed off because gays got something you think they shouldn’t have and now you’re throwing a temper tantrum.

    I’m waiting now for you to come back with the obligatory argument about polygamy, incest, bestiality and the undermining of the very core of civilization.

    How about if you do something more than parrot what other people say. Something like back up your strident assertions with some supporting facts and/or documentation?

    *crickets chirping*
    .
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    *crickets chirping*
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    *crickets chirping*

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  7. floyd says:

    Patricia;
    Do you actually get All of your exercise “jumping to conclusions”?
    The fourth amendment is the ultimate foundation of both interpretations.
    I’m apparently not the one having a Tantrum and I’m certainly not angry[lol]
    Now, sit back, take a deep breath and continue to wait for me to fit your stereotype.

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  8. *crickets chirping*
    .
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    *crickets chirping*

    Still waiting to hear that well-thought-out, articulate, intelligent, fact-based argument. You can try to distract everyone from the fact that you can’t debate without nastiness and WITH facts and supporting documentation by acting out, but I think the rest of the folks here are waiting to see you either “put up, or shut up.”

    *crickets chirping*

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  9. floyd says:

    I assume your comments display a “well-thought-out, articulate, intelligent, fact-based argument.”??
    What nastiness?

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  10. *crickets chirping*

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  11. Tlaloc says:

    The best thing (in my opinion) would be for the state and federal governement to get completely out of the marriage business. Stop requiring a legal document of marriage. Instead of trying to figure out how to regulate more people’s personal life, let’s de-regulate the whole darn thing.

    JimT is correct, the problem arises because we’ve entangled a religious rite with a legal right. That’s not good. It is probably in fact an infringement of the establishment clause, but even if not it should be cleared up to settle all these idiotic issues.

    Make a legal contract that takes the place of marriage in terms of the law. This contract can be between any consenting parties (men, women, multiples of each if you like). Meanwhile make marriage purely a symbolic affair (no force of law whatsoever) which can be defined as each church, synagogue, temple, or whatever sees fit. People can get married without the legal contract, or can get the legal contract without getting married, or can get both or neither. It resolves everything neatly.

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  12. floyd says:

    Tlaloc;
    That’s precisely what we have! A government license cannot make a marriage and never could. They can only enforce contracts and licenses. A marriage license is nothing more than a civil contract.
    Unfortunately they insist on claiming jurisdiction on the products of contracts and licensed activity.
    The “Civil Unions” argument, in whatever attire, still smells like a red herring!{a false compromise not addressing the real issue}.
    The idea of discarding thousands of years of traditional law, with one lame argument,{“the establishment clause”} will inevitably lead to the legalization of private murder…[the fifth commandment after all]…But then… why let the government have all the fun??!! [lol]

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  13. Michael says:

    WOW! I can’t wait to bring my three fiances to Saudi Arabia – get hitched and then get a little place in Rochester!

    Polygamy is illegal in the United States of America, homosexual marriage is not.

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  14. [...] (New York Times) HT: Outside the Beltway [...]

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