New York’s Highest Court Allows Continued Marriage Discrimination

Disappointing ruling denies many New York families the important protections of marriage, leaves matter to state legislature

The New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, held today in a 4-2 ruling that the “New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the Legislature.”

People For the American Way Foundation joined an amicus curiae brief in the case urging the Court to hold that the state Constitution prohibits the state from denying same-sex couples the right to marry. PFAW Foundation President, Ralph G. Neas, issued the following statement in response to the Court’s decision:

“In allowing the state of New York to continue to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, the state Court of Appeals abdicated its responsibility to uphold the due process and equal protection clauses of the state Constitution. Instead, the Court relied on tired assumptions about parenting and procreation in determining that gay and lesbian New Yorkers can properly be considered second-class citizens when it comes to marriage and denied the important protections for their families that only marriage provides. The legal analysis embraced by the Court’s majority was wrong.

"Fortunately, public opinion on this issue is shifting in favor of fairness, both in New York and across the nation. We hope that the opinion offered by Chief Judge Judith Kaye in her dissent—that New York ‘has a proud tradition of affording equal rights to all New Yorkers’ and that ‘sadly, the Court today retreats from that proud tradition’—will soon be embraced by the majority of New Yorkers, and that the legislature will do what the Court of Appeals did not do today—provide equality of treatment to all New Yorkers and the important protections of marriage to every family.”

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