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Judge Upholds
Paterson's Marriage Recognition Order

Judge Upholds
Paterson's Marriage Recognition Order

The New York supreme court ruled Tuesday that Gov. David Paterson acted within his gubernatorial powers when he issued an executive order requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries, TheNew York Times reports.

The New York supreme court ruled Tuesday that Gov. David Paterson acted within his gubernatorial powers when he issued an executive order requiring state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries, TheNew York Times reports. Same-sex marriage has yet to be legalized in New York State.

Justice Lucy Billings wrote in her opinion, "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." She added, "Nothing is more antithetical to family stability than requiring [couples] to abandon that solemnized commitment."

Paterson issued the executive order on May 14. The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative group based in Arizona, represented 18 New York lawmakers and other opponents in filing a suit against the order in June, claiming that the order illegally bypassed the legislature's role in issuing the law. In July, Paterson and state attorney general Andrew Cuomo filed a motion to dismiss the case. Paterson said the order was to protect the state from being sued by New York couples who got married in other places and who would then seek recognition of their marriages upon their return.

The state assembly passed a bill to allow same-sex unions in 2007, but the bill has yet to come up for a vote in the senate, according to the Times.

Jim Campbell, a spokesman for the Alliance Defense Fund, said the group would appeal the court's ruling. "We believe that the trial court's ruling is incorrect and that the governor has in fact usurped his authority by overriding the people's decision to define marriage in New York as the union of one man and one woman," he said in a statement.

Lambda Legal represented state employees Peri Rainbow and Tamela Sloan, who married in Canada and wanted their home state to recognize their marriage. The court allowed the couple to intervene in the case.

"The court said that respect for out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is the law in New York," Susan Sommer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "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."

Paterson praised the judge, according to Newsday. "This ruling is an important affirmation that states are expected to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states, unless existing laws prevent it," he said in the article. "New York has no such prohibition." (The Advocate)

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