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N.Y. Court Rules for Gay Spouse in Inheritance Case

N.Y. Court Rules for Gay Spouse in Inheritance Case


A New York appeals court ruled Thursday for the inheritance rights of a same-sex spouse who married his late husband in Canada.

According to the New York Law Journal, "The Appellate Division, First Department, held yesterday in Matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, 4214, that recognizing the marriage in Canada of H. Kenneth Ranftle and J. Craig Leiby, who was designated as Mr. Ranftle's 'surviving spouse and sole distributee,' did not violate public policy."

The ruling reinforced state law that recognizes same-sex marriages performed out of state as valid and said that the legislature's failure to act was no reason to deny recognition. The senate defeated a marriage equality bill in 2009 but advocates remain hopeful for another vote by June.

The New York Law Journal reports that the unanimous panel wrote, "[T]he Legislature's failure to authorize same-sex couples to enter into marriage in New York or require recognition of validly performed out-of-state same-sex marriages, cannot serve as an expression of public policy for the State."

Ranftle and Leiby married in Quebec in 2008. Following the death of Ranftle that same year, Leiby entered a legal battle with his deceased spouse's three brothers.

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