Friday, December 09, 2005

New York Court Says No to Same-Sex Marriage but Does Not Have Last Word

For those of us following the City of New York's appeal to a February ruling that found it unconstitutional to deny same-sex partners in New York City the right to marriage, yesterday's announcement reversing that opinion was no big surprise. At the court hearing, for the most part, the Justices were clear in their disdain for the arguments brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of the plaintiffs seeking the right to marry. The majority of the 4-1 ruling certainly expressed that disdain in their opinions released yesterday. For a full evaluation of what the set-back means, you would be well-served by reading this Gay City News article by Art Leonard which tacitly puts the blame on one person: Mayor Mike Bloomberg whose decision it was to appeal the February ruling.

For his part, Mayor Bloomberg released the following statement "As I have said, this issue should be decided by the State's highest court and I assume today's decision will be appealed. If today's decision is affirmed by the Court of Appeals, I will urge the Legislature to change the State's Domestic Relations Law to permit gay marriage."

Lambda Legal has said that they will appeal yesterday's ruling.

In the meantime, Curtis Woolbright and his partner Daniel S. Reyes,
plaintiffs in this case and pictured above at a Marriage Equality march accross the Brooklyn Bridge in 2004, sent the following message out this morning:

Dear Friends,

We wanted to let you know that the NYS Appellate Court reached a decision in our marriage case. Unfortunately it was not in our favor. In a vote of 4 to 1 the court reversed the decision of Supreme Court Justice Ling-Cohen. In essence the majority decision states that the fundamental right to marry doesn't extend to same-sex couples, only to "traditional" man-woman marriage; marriage is about procreation and childrearing, which justifies excluding same-sex couples; and it's up to the legislature, not the courts, to create social policy on marriage, and Judge Ling-Cohan was wrong not only on the merits but also in her remedy -- having found the marriage ban unconstitutional, the most she could do is send the question to the legislature.

As we shared with you previously, when we were in the courtroom, the justices were openly hostile to our attorney, so it is not entirely surprising that they ruled against us. Lambda has told us that they plan on appealing the case to the state's highest court, the NYS Court of Appeals. There are other cases in the state that are also working their way to the high court. Whether there will be a consolidation of cases is unclear to us right now.

Curtis and I are very disappointed with the decision. Frankly there is almost a numbness that comes with the news. Perhaps it is because there are so many feelings and thoughts swirling about. Interestingly, back in February when we got the first decision our reaction was the almost the same: numb and not sure what to feel. It really is still sinking in for us. One thing is for certain we will persevere and hopefully the final decision will be in our favor and if not...well.....we've got one question, "How cold does it get in Toronto?" We will continue to keep you posted.

Warmest Wishes this Holiday Season,

Daniel & Curtis

Let's hope that next year the holidays will be warmer for Daniel and Curtis, the other plaintiffs, and many of the other same-sex couples who wish to marry throughout New York State.

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