New York's top court has rejected a bid
to strip state employees who are gay of some benefits, the AP
The Christian-based Alliance Defense
Fund (ADF) had challenged the state's gay marriage-recognition law,
arguing such marriages are similar to incest and polygamy.
The New York Court of Appeals' 4-3
decision, however, stops short of declaring that gay couples are
entitled to all the rights of other married couples.
The ruling comes on the heels of a
similar ruling in California that declared the federal government's
denial of spousal benefits to a gay public defender was
unconstitutional. The California ruling, however, might have
nationwide implications, while New York's is limited to the Empire
The ruling could prompt the New York
Senate to act on a gay marriage bill waiting for its approval to
become law. Democratic leaders in the chamber have promised a vote
on the bill before the end of the year. But its prospect for passage
remain dim due to lack of Republican support and a divided Democratic
Party. Governor David Paterson has personally advocated on behalf of
the gay marriage bill.
Judges Thursday urged legislators to
resolve the issue by allowing gay marriage: “We ought to avoid the
confusion that would arise from a same-sex couple considered legally
married by one agency for one purpose, but not married by another
agency for a different purpose.”
ADF attorneys argued that gay marriage
should be considered an “abhorrent” class of marriage not
eligible for benefits, such as incest and polygamy, two instances
excluded by law. The court disagreed.