Marriage Equality in NY

With the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act, effective July 24, 2011, New York joins other US jurisdiction (in addition to Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia) recognizing marriages without regard to whether the parties are of the same or different sex. According to the legislation, there is no residency requirement for obtaining a marriage license. For more, see statement of the Mayor of the City of New York.

Other states (Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts) attained recognition of marriage equality by court decision and face potential challenges from opponents of same-sex marriage. For five months in 2008, after a ruling by the California Supreme Court, 18,000 gay couples married before voters overturned the ruling. The constitutionality of California’s ban is now before a federal appeals court. New York joins the District of Columbia, New Hampshire and Vermont in achieving marriage equality by legislation. On the federal level, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as “the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and a spouse as a husband or wife of the opposite sex”, is at odds with New York’s new legislation. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY8) has introduced the Respect for Marriage Act with 105 cosponsors in the House. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced the Senate version of the bill which marks the first attempt by the Senate to repeal DOMA.

The Brooklyn Law School Library has in its collection When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage by M. V. Lee Badgett (Call # K699 .B33 2009). The book examines the effects on societies that allow same-sex couples to marry and included personal stories that” link the broad abstract numbers and the cultural instituti on to the individual lives affected by the law.” It examines what happened in European societies that allow same-sex couples to marry, studies why people marry in the first place, what marriage means to both homosexuals and heterosexuals, whether allowing gays to marry changes heterosexual marriage, and whether the right to marry would change the gay community.