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Fourth Department Holds New York Must Honor Gay Marriage Originating in Canada

Gavel2 It's a decision that has already received much attention:  Martinez v County of Monroe, 2008 NY Slip Op 00909.

At issue in this decision was whether Monroe Community College properly denied health care benefits to the female partner of a female student.  The MCC student had previously married her partner in Canada.

In reaching its decision, the Court noted that:

For well over a century, New York has recognized marriages solemnized outside of New York unless they fall into two categories of exception: (1) marriage, the recognition of which is prohibited by the "positive law" of New York and (2) marriages involving incest or polygamy, both of which fall within the prohibitions of "natural law"...

The Court then concluded that neither exception applied in this case, and that recent New York Court of Appeals decision, Hernandez v. Robles (previously discussed here) did not mandate a different result, since the holding of that case was that the New York Constitution did not compel the recognition of same-sex marriages occurring in New York.  In other words, the Legislature remains free to enact legislation that allows same sex marriages in New York.

Props to the Fourth Department and to Jeff Wicks, acting of counsel for the NYCLU, a friend of mine with whom I serve on the Communications Committee at the Monroe County Bar Association.

For additional coverage of this decision, see:

--Nicole Black is, among other things, a Rochester DWI defense lawyer, and is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach, one of the largest and most experienced DWI defense firms in New York State.  She also co-authors the Thomson-West book Criminal Law in New York and writes a weekly column, "Legal Currents", for The Daily Record.


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