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Lambda Legal filed a brief in New York State's middle court Monday to defend a ruling in a lower court that recommended allowing same-sex marriage in New York City. The city appealed the ruling earlier this year.
Lambda Legal argued that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and denies gay couples--and their children--the protections that come with marriage. "The city based its appeal on the assertion that it is important to support heterosexual procreation, but in doing so the government turns its back on children raised by same-sex couples who must go without the protections that come with civil marriage," said lead attorney and Lambda Legal senior counsel Susan Sommer. "Over half of all of the same-sex couples in New York are raising children."
The brief also argued that the city should not base its appeal on a ruling in an old case taken from the Book of Genesis.
The original lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal in March 2004 and sought marriage licenses for gay couples in New York City on the grounds that denying them violated the constitutional rights to equality, liberty, and privacy.
The trial court ruled in Lambda's favor on February 4, 2005, and Justice Ling-Cohan wrote that denying "access to civil marriage denies plaintiffs something irreplaceable." She added, "Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing."
New York City filed an appeal, and on March 31 New York's highest court determined that the case should be heard in the mid-level appeals court.
More than 100 organizations and individuals, including the New York County Lawyers' Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Organization for Women-New York State, are supporting Lambda Legal as friends of the court. Jeffrey S. Trachtman and Norman Simon of Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel are working with Susan Sommer as cocounsel.