Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York
During years 2000 - 2007
2000-MAY-21: State Democratic committee:
The committee decided to study the issue of state recognition of same-sex relationships. Lawrence Moss, chairperson
of the party's reform caucus said: "We believe it's a fundamental rights
issue. We believe the time for it has come." State Senate Republican
spokesman John McArdle said a civil-union bill "is not something we'd
2000-AUG-17: More discussions:
Southern Voice reported that same-sex unions
or marriages were being actively discussed by Democrats in at least four states,
including New York. They reported that State Senator Tom Duane
(D-Manhattan) considered introducing a civil union bill when his legislature
2006-MAY: Appeal to the Court of Appeals:
Four cases involving Daniel Hernandez, et al., Sylvia Samuels, et al., Elissa
Kane, et al., and Jason Seymour, et al. were heard by the Court of Appeals. The
cases, #86 to 89, involved 44 couples who attempted to obtain marriage licenses
at various locations in New York state and were refused. They launched a total
of four lawsuits. Rulings by the Supreme Court, and later by the Appellate
Division were mixed.
Their cases were combined and heard together by the Court of Appeals. 1
2006-JUL-07: Court says right to marry does not exist:
The Court of Appeals had heard arguments favoring
marriage equity in 2006-MAY.
Glen Lavy, of the Alliance Defense Fund, a fundamentalist Christian legal
support group, said:
"I don't have a crystal ball. You don't know what the rule is going
to be, but I did not think the court was going to reverse the decision
because of how strong the lower court decisions were. We keep hearing
from the opponents to redefine marriage that they have a clear legal
trend moving their way. But really what we have is a clear trend moving
the other way. We only have one clear court that is an outlier - and
that's Massachusetts." 2
The court ruled
that the state's "one-man, one-woman" definition of marriage did not violate the
constitutional rights of same-sex couples. They also stated than any provision
of SSM in the state
would have to be made by the legislature.
Jay Weiser is a law professor at
Baruch University who helped write a brief in support of same-sex marriage for the New York City Bar Association. He said that:
"New York's decision is a fairly narrow view of what guarantees the
state constitution provides.... So far, the courts are mixed but the
majority of cases have passed defense of marriage or constitutional
amendments barring same-sex marriages."
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of The Empire State Pride Agenda,
a New York state gay-positive civil liberties group, said:
"This community has never been handed anything for free. I know that
winning marriage will be a long battle ... and the gay community has the
stamina to win gay marriage in New York."
Immediately after the court's decision Eliot Spitzer said that he would submit a
bill to legalize SSM in New York State if he becomes governor.
2007-APR-26: Poll indicates support for SSM:
Crain, a New York publisher of business magazines,
conducted an online poll of New York business persons about SSM. Results were:
||63% favored a same-sex marriage law.
||19% favored a civil union law that would
give same-sex couples the same state rights as married couples, without the name
||18% favored the governor government
recognizing opposite-sex couples only as roommtes.
N = 1,022; margin of error: 3.5%
2007-APR-27: Governor Eliot Spitzer introduces SSM bill:
Eliot Spitzer (D) won the election for governor during 2006-NOV. As he
promised, on APR-27,
he filed a bill in the Assembly and Senate which would legalize SSM in New York
State. The bill was filed at the office of Sheldon Silver (D), Speaker of the
Assembly. He had not taken a personal position on SSM and left its promotion up
Democratic caucus. The bill was also filed at the office of Joseph L. Bruno, the
Majority Leader in the Senate, who strongly opposes equal marriage
rights for same-sex couples.
The bill had little chance of success at the time.
Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the gay-positive Empire State
Pride Agenda said: "Today is a watershed moment." During 2006-fall,
he estimated that 35 Assembly members and 14 Senators supported SSM. By
2007-APR, he estimates support from 61 Assembly members and 18 Senators. (76
Assembly members and 32 Senators would be required to pass the bill.) 3
The bill passed the Assembly during 2007 by a
vote of 85 to 61, but died in the Senate. 5
2007-APR-27: Married state employees to receive benefits:
The State Department of Civil Service ruled that legally married
same-sex spouses of state employees will be granted medical and other benefits
administered through its Employee Benefits Division. Included will be
employees of New York State, its municipalities, and school districts.
Alan Van Capelle, of Empire State Pride Agenda said:
"Over the past several years, thousands of same-sex couples have traveled
out-of-state to get legally married and have asked their employers to fully
respect their marriage. The NYS Retirement System has done this." 3
Most of the eligible employees and their spouses
were married in Massachusetts or Canada. There may be others who have
married in Belgium, The Netherlands, South Africa, or Spain.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Text of the Court of Appeals' ruling is at:
Ron Scherer, "Two states say 'no'
to gay marriage," Christian Science Monitor, 2006-JUL-07, at:
"Spitzer Files Gay Marriage Bill," 365Gay.com, 2007-APR-27, at:
David Jones, "Spitzer has support on gay marriage: poll," New York Business,
"New York governor to propose legalizing same-sex marriage," CNN,
Copyright © 2007 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2007-APR-30
Latest update: 2009-APR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson