New York's highest court handed same-sex marriage advocates a victory on Tuesday by refusing to hear an appeal on an appellate court's groundbreaking ruling that recognized a same-sex couple's Canadian marriage.

By letting the earlier ruling stand, valid out-of-state same-sex marriages are recognized by the state of New York. Currently in the United States only Massachusetts offers same-sex couples the legal right to marry.

The case, Martinez v. County of Monroe, was decided in February by an appellate court which unanimously affirmed the lesbian couple's Canadian marriage. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) brought forth the case on behalf of Patricia Martinez, a word processing supervisor for Monroe Community College in Rochester since 1984.

The couple have been in a committed relationship since 2000 – they own a home together and have drawn up mutual wills. The women were married in 2004. They sought health care benefits from Monroe County and when denied, filed suit in 2005.

“If a marriage is valid in the state or county in which the marriage took place, New York law generally requires the recognition of that marriage,” said Arthur Eisenberg, the NYCLU's legal director. “This case involved a straightforward application of that principle.”

County Executive Maggie Brooks said the county appealed the ruling to protect taxpayers.

“Today is a great day for fairness in New York State,” said Donna Lieberman Executive Director of NYCLU. “This is a victory for families, and it's a victory for human rights. Congratulations to all gay and lesbian couples validly married outside of New York Sate. Now we need to work towards a New York where you don't have to cross state or country lines to get married.”

Maggie Brooks said she was disappointed at the ruling.