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New York court rules that state must recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages

[JURIST] A New York state appeals court on Friday unanimously ruled [PDF text] that the state must legally recognize valid out-of-state same-sex marriages [NYCLU press release]. Patricia Martinez filed the lawsuit [case backgrounder] in Rochester, NY against her employer Monroe Community College (MCC) [acadmic website] after it denied her request to extend health benefits to her spouse Lisa Golden. The couple was married in Ontario, Canada in 2004 following the legalization of same-sex marriages there in 2003. The court emphasized that New York State has a long history of recognizing out-of-state marriages, and so long as a union did not offend "natural law" or violate a state statute, it must be recognized by the state. The court found that MCC violated New York Executive Law 296(1)(a), a law protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other things. Martinez was represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website], who called the decision a victory for families, fairness, and human rights. It was not immediately clear whether MCC would appeal the decision.

In June, the New York State Assembly passed a bill [A08590 materials; JURIST report] to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill, proposed by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer [official website] and sponsored [press release] by Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell [official website], was defeated by the Republican controlled Senate and returned to the Assembly last month. The New York Times has more. The Democrat and Chronicle has additional coverage.

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