New York Court Throws Out Case Against Governor Paterson and Upholds Recognition of Out-of-State Marriages of Same Sex Couples: Lambda Legal Applauds Ruling

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September 2, 2008

(New York September 2, 2008) —The New York Supreme Court (Bronx trial court) has dismissed a lawsuit against Governor Paterson that attempted to challenge his directive, consistent with long-standing New York law, that state agencies respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples. Lambda Legal represented Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan, state employees who married in Canada.


In her opinion, Justice Lucy Billings said, “…when partners manifest the commitment to their relationship and family, by solemnizing that commitment elsewhere, through one of life's most significant events, and come to New York, whether returning home or setting down roots, to carry on that commitment, nothing is more antithetical to family stability than requiring them to abandon that solemnized commitment […] The emotional, familial, financial, and legal stability that accompanies marriage establishes a strong presumption in favor of the marriage's continued validity.”


“The court said 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. “There has been a steady drumbeat of courts recognizing long-standing New York law as it applies to same-sex couples—we are very pleased. This is yet another example of the Alliance Defense Fund’s failed attempts to challenge well-established New York law.”


In July, Attorney General Cuomo, on behalf of Governor Paterson, filed a motion to dismiss a case brought by the Alliance Defense Fund. The ADF and a few taxpayers challenged Governor Paterson’s May 14 directive that state agencies respect out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, consistent with long-standing New York state law. The court granted Lambda Legal’s motion to intervene in the case on behalf of Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan, long-time public employees who are raising a special needs child adopted from foster care. The couple depends on the protections that come from respect for their marriage. Today’s decision ensures that they will continue to be treated equally in New York State.


Senior Counsel Susan Sommer is Lambda Legal’s lead attorney on the case. Jeffrey S. Trachtman and Norman C. Simon of the law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP are co-counsel on the case.


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Contact: Erin Baer, Office: 212-809-8585 ext: 267; Email: ebaer@lambdalegal.org


Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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