Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Same-Sex Marriage Ban Nixed in NY

The article says among other things:
 In concluding that the right to marry the person of one's choosing is both a privacy right and a liberty right, the judge cited many ways in which she believes "the plaintiffs and their children suffer serious burdens by being excluded from civil marriage" under New York's Domestic Relations Law. Being able to register as "domestic partners" just isn't enough either, in her view. She cited US General Accounting Office figures that "identified 1049 federal laws in which benefits, rights and privileges are contingent on marital status."

As examples under state law, the judge cited the fact that the "plaintiffs couples may not own property by their entireties; file joint state income tax returns; obtain health insurance through a partner's coverage; obtain joint liability or homeowner's insurance; collect from a partner's pension benefits; have one partner of the two-women couples be the legal parent of the other partner's artificially inseminated child, without the expense of an adoption proceeding; invoke the spousal evidentiary privilege; recover damages for an injury to, or the wrongful death of, a partner; have the right to make important medical decisions for a partner in emergencies; inherit from a deceased partner's intestate estate; or determine a partner's funeral and burial arrangements."

Judge Ling-Cohen found that one of the same-sex couples "had to endure considerable expense, including hiring lawyers, and had their privacy invaded in the process." She acknowledged and paraphrased the testimony of the child of the marriage — conceived through anonymous sperm donation — who said via affidavit that "it is unfair that her parents cannot be married to each other and that it is wrong that she can have a legal relationship with each of her parents, but they cannot have the legal relationship of marriage to each other." In all respects, the judge found, "but the ability to marry, the relationships (of the plaintiffs) are typical of countless couples with the City and throughout the State...."

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