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New York high
court passes on gay marriage lawsuits

New York high
court passes on gay marriage lawsuits

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New York's highest court on Thursday said it would not consider two lawsuits challenging the state to allow same-sex marriage until the cases are heard by an appeals panel.

New York State's highest court Thursday declined to hear two cases contesting the state law that bars same-sex couples from getting married. The court of appeals ruled it does not have the jurisdiction to hear the cases before they first go to a lower appellate court. In February, state supreme court justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled that the state law is unconstitutional, finding in favor of five same-sex couples who had been denied marriage licenses by New York City. The judge said the city clerk may not deny a license to any couple solely because the two are of the same sex. The city is appealing the judge's ruling. It filed to skip the appellate level court and have the case heard by the court of appeals, the state's highest court. The couples in the case also wanted to skip the intermediate court. The court of appeals, however, hears cases directly from the trial-level court only when there is a question of a law's constitutionality. Since other issues are also involved in the case, the panel sent it back to the lower appellate court. "The court of appeals decision not to review this case without an intermediate court ruling...unfortunately, will not give the gay and lesbian community clarity on this important issue as quickly as I had hoped," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who supports same-sex marriage but appealed Ling-Cohan's ruling on legal grounds. Susan Sommer, a senior counsel for Lambda Legal, which filed one of the lawsuits, said she is "disappointed that it will take more time to resolve this case." Another case out of Albany also challenged the state law, but the statute was upheld by the trial court. The plaintiffs in that case also tried to have the case heard directly by the court of appeals but were denied. (AP)

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