New York State Legalizes Same-sex Marriage

Last Friday Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law making New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. When the law takes effect on July 24 it will double the number of people in the United States living in a state that allows same-sex marriage. The bill will provide same-sex couples many of the state benefits previously only recognized in traditional marriage relationships, such as several tax breaks, easier inheritance, and employer health benefits. Federal benefits, like social security and immigration issues, are not affected by the vote.

The vote came down to the wire, with many uncertain of whether or not it would pass. In the end, the Republican controlled Senate narrowly passed the measure 33-29, and the Governor signed it into law. People were speaking out on both sides of the debate after the passage, as Governor Cuomo told reporters that many in the country look to New York as a leader in progressive politics, and Columbia Law professor Suzanne Goldberg stated, “The point of civil rights laws is to protect everybody — both the people who look like us or who we relate to and the people who don’t.”

New York’s Catholic bishops released a joint statement, stating “We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization.” Many opposition lawmakers expressed concern over the potential for lawsuits against the state’s religious organizations, but an amendment was added that will protect these groups from litigation.

Although it is not the first, New York is the most prominent state to allow same-sex marriages. New York will join 5 other states in allow legal same-sex marriage. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa began allowing same-sex marriages after rulings by their state supreme courts decided that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was a violation of their rights under their respective state constitutions. Avoiding the courts, Vermont and New Hampshire passed statutes to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Alternatively, in the last decade 29 states have amended their constitutions to define marriage as between one woman and one man, and 12 additional states have passed statutes that include the same language. On the Federal side, the Defense of Marriage Act also limits the definition of marriage to one woman and one man.

(c) Picture: UBC

Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs