Gay couples who married in states where gay marriage is legal should be able to claim some government benefits, a New York court ruled yesterday.

Christian legal group Alliance Defense Fund had challenged the case, saying that gay marriage was akin to incest and polygamy and should not be granted benefits.

This was rejected by the Court of Appeal, although it did not grant gay couples all the rights given to heterosexual married people.

However, gay rights groups welcomed the ruling, saying it added momentum to a campaign to grant gay marriage in the state.

According to AP, Empire State Pride Agenda executive director Alan Van Capelle said. “It’s another court saying the state Senate should act and clarify the issue.”

A gay marriage bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate soon.

It passed the state’s Assembly in May but there are fears the Senate does not have enough signatures to pass it. Thirty-two votes are needed to pass the bill.

It must be approved by the Senate before going to Governor David Paterson for signing.

He cannot force the Senate to pass the bill, but said recently he was optimistic that it would. Paterson has spoken of his support for gay marriage a number of times.