ACLU files marriage lawsuit against New York State
April 08 2004 12:00 AM ET
The American Civil Liberties Unionn and other groups, on behalf of 13 gay and lesbian couples, sued New York State on Wednesday, seeking to declare as unconstitutional the law that denies same-sex couples the right to marry. "This case is about ending the discrimination that is currently written into the marriage laws of New York," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The NYCLU, along with the ACLU and a Manhattan firm, filed the lawsuit in state supreme court in Albany on behalf of the 13 couples, including Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell and his partner of 23 years, John Banta. The suit, filed against the state Department of Health, charges that state health regulations defining marriage as between a man and a woman violate the state constitution's equal protection, privacy, and due process provisions.
Many of the couples appearing at a New York City news conference said they had hoped to be married by New Paltz mayor Jason West, who now faces misdemeanor charges for officiating at 25 gay weddings. O'Donnell's sister, comedian Rosie O'Donnell, was married at a ceremony in San Francisco in February to her partner, Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell. But O'Donnell said he was born and raised in New York, adding, "I want to get married here in Manhattan at the Plaza."