New York's top court has rejected a bid to strip state employees who are gay of some benefits, the AP reported.

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 State.

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.