Again, New York Court Says Recognition of Out-of-State Marriages of Same-Sex Couples Follows New York Law: Lambda Legal Applauds Ruling
(New York, March 5, 2008) — A New York State Judge has upheld the New York Department of Civil Service's policy recognizing Canadian marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of spousal health insurance coverage for public employees.
"Yet another court is saying that respect for out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is the law in New York," said Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal. "In recent months there has been a steady drumbeat of courts recognizing long-established New York law as it applies to same-sex couples — we are very pleased."
State Supreme Court (New York's trial court level) Justice Thomas J. McNamara wrote, "The policy memorandum issued by the New York State Department of Civil Service Employee Benefits Division in which it recognized, as spouses, the parties to any same sex marriage, performed in jurisdictions where such marriage is legal, is both lawful and within its authority."
Lambda Legal intervened in the lawsuit Lewis v. Department of Civil Service on behalf of Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan. Rainbow and Sloan are state employees who were married in Canada and they depend on their health insurance benefits just like their different-sex married co-workers. The New York State Health Insurance Program provides important medical benefits for them as a family.
In May 2007, the New York State Department of Civil Service issued a revision to its policy in which it announced that it would recognize, as spouses, any marriage of same-sex couples performed in jurisdictions where such marriage is legal. The lawsuit began when a few New York State taxpayers represented by the Alliance Defense Fund argued that the policy change was unconstitutional and an illegal expenditure of State funds.
Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal's Headquarters, handled the case. She was joined by Jeffrey S. Trachtman and Norman C. Simon of Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP in New York.
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