New York High Court Hears Argument in Cases Attacking Government Respect for Out-of-State Marriages of Same-Sex Couples
(Albany, New York, October 13, 2009) –Today, Lambda Legal argued before the New York State Court of Appeals on behalf of two married same-sex couples after the Alliance Defense Fund, an antigay legal group, objected to county and state officials acting in compliance with long-standing New York law by recognizing out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.
"There has been a steady drumbeat of courts recognizing long-established New York law as it applies to same-sex couples," said Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal. "It's time to put this to rest – all marriages should be treated equally under the law. And for our clients, the impact is very real: Respecting out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples will ensure that important spousal health coverage will continue for government employees."
Lambda Legal intervened on behalf of two married same-sex couples that will be affected by the court's decision. Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan, long-time public employees intervened in the Lewis case, and are raising a special needs child adopted from foster care. The couple depends on the critical government protections that come from respect for their marriage. "We are fighting against ADF to keep the same health coverage as our co-workers," said Rainbow. "We just want to be able to continue using the health insurance that provides important medical benefits for our family."
Lambda Legal represents Westchester County couple Michael Sabatino and Robert Voorheis, who married in Canada and were permitted to intervene as defendants in the Godfrey v. Spano case. "We hope the court will re-affirm that our relationship will be honored in the community where we live and where we make our life together as a married couple," said Sabatino. "It would be a relief to know that we will continue to have the protections that come from our marriage."
For background on Godfrey v. Spano visit: /in-court/cases/godfrey-v-spano.html
For background on Lewis v. New York State Department of Civil Service visit: /in-court/cases/lewis-v-new-york-state-department-civil-service.html
Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel and Director of Constitutional Litigation, is handling the case for Lambda Legal. Jeffrey S. Trachtman of Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP in New York will serve as co-counsel.
The cases are Godfrey v. Spano and Lewis v. New York State Department of Civil Service, et al.