NY court upholds recognition of same-sex marriages

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A trial court judge in New York state has upheld as consistent with New York law the state Comptroller’s policy to recognise the marriages of same-sex couples entered in Canada for the purposes of the New York State Retirement System.

“This is one more court saying that respect for out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is the law in New York,” Susan Sommer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

“We thank Comptroller DiNapoli for standing up for the rights of lesbian and gay New Yorkers.”

Lambda Legal intervened in the lawsuit, Godfrey v. DiNapoli, on behalf of Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan.

Rainbow and Sloan are state employees who were married in Canada and depend on retirement benefits just like their opposite-sex married co-workers.

The couple has been together for more than seven years and is raising a daughter.

The New York State Retirement System provides important protection for them as a family and is significant in their long-range financial planning.

In September 2004, former Comptroller Alan Hevesi announced that, consistent with New York law, the Retirement System would recognise the Canadian marriage of same-sex couples the same way it would recognise a different-sex marriage.

Current Comptroller DiNapoli has continued the policy.

The lawsuit began when a few residents of Westchester County in New York and the Alliance Defence Fund challenged the policy, claiming that recognition of out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is illegal.

The trial court determined that since such marriages are legal in Canada, and New York State respects marriages that are valid where entered even if it unavailable here, the Comptroller’s policy should stand.

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