Current Affairs

New York gays told marriages are legal

Rachel Charman May 18, 2007
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A gay New York couple have been told that their Massachusetts marriage is legal.

On 10th May, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly found that gay weddings that took place in other states before they became “prohibited” in New York in July last year are legally valid.

Michael Adams and Fred Davie were wed in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2004 after the state became the first in the U.S. to allow gay marriage. However, couples are banned from marrying in the state if their marriage would be illegal in their home states.

Adams and Davie had been waiting since their wedding to find out if their marriage was valid in New York. Adams told The Advocate : “We’ve been in limbo.”

“To learn that the marriage we cherish so much is legal, and recognized in Massachusetts and New York — well, we can’t wait to get together to pop open a bottle of champagne.”

“We’ve come such a long way. We know that we have a legally recognized marriage, and it’s going to open up new opportunities for us to be treated fairly, to get benefits we deserve as a couple.”

The ruling brings good news to other gay New York couples who married in Massachusetts between May 2004 and July 2006. GLAAD has said 173 New York couples were affected by the court decision.

Many couples from other states, however, have not been so lucky. When Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, former Governor Mitt Romney ordered municipal clerks to refuse licences to out-of-state couples.

He cited a 1913 law that prohibited couples from marrying in Massachusetts if they were banned from marrying in their home states.

Eight couples from six states challenged the law.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in March 2006 that Massachusetts must bar gay couples from states that had “express prohibition” against same-sex marriage.

Couples from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were affected. The high court said it was unclear whether gay marriage was specifically banned in New York and Rhode Island.

The case was sent back to Connolly, who ruled in September that Rhode Island couples were allowed to marry in Massachusetts.

Though gay rights groups have praised the decision, not all New Yorkers are as optimistic.

Head of the New York Conservative Party Michael Long said: “It’s wishful thinking by some homosexual couples that the interpretation of a particular judge will change their status.”

“The law in the state of New York is very clear — marriage is between a man and a woman.”

The controversy over allowing gay marriages in New York goes on.

Democrat New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, as state attorney general, has said that gay marriage is illegal under existing state law, but is continuing his attempts to convince the state Senate and Assembly to change this.

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