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
Maggie Brooks said she was disappointed
at the ruling.