Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monroe county's appeal on same-sex marriage protested

Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

County's appeal on same-sex marriage protested

Victoria E. Freile
Staff writer

February 25, 2008 1:31 pm — About 75 people today gathered outside the Monroe County Office Building to protest county officials’ decision to appeal a court ruling that requires New York State to recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the Empire State.

“Everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly under the law,” said Todd Plank, who helped organize today’s rally.

Numerous organizations, including The Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley, Interfaith Advocates and Social Action for Marriage Equality, were represented among those who gathered outside the County Office Building, 37 W. Main St., at noon. A second rally is planned in the same spot today at 4 p.m.

On Feb. 1, the Appellate Division of New York State Supreme Court said that same-sex marriages legally consecrated elsewhere must be recognized in New York, unless the Legislature passes a law to deny their legitimacy.

Last week, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks announced that the county would appeal the appellate court ruling to protect taxpayers.

“We certainly cannot ignore the definition of marriage that currently exists under New York state law,” Brooks said in a statement. She last week said the county must appeal the decision to protect county taxpayers.

“We wanted her to hear from the people — all taxpayers who don’t have an issue with extending equal benefits for equal work,” Plank said.

The appeal focuses on the marriage of Chili residents Patricia Martinez and Lisa Ann Golden, who attend today’s protest.

Their union, legally consecrated in Canada in 2004, was not immediately accepted by Martinez’s employer, Monroe Community College. In 2005, she sued to get health care benefits for Golden. Earlier this month, a court ruled in her favor.

As long as the Martinez case ruling stands, same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere will be entitled to the same treatment under state law as marriages between a man and a woman.

While bundled in winter ware, many attendees held signs showing their distaste for Brooks’ action. Two such signs read, “Equal taxes equals Equal rights,” and “Love doesn’t discriminate. Monroe County does.”

Rod Frohman, an associate pastor for the Third Presbyterian Church in Rochester, said he was “mystified that Brooks would pick this up,” and attended the rally so the community knew the parish supports equal rights and equal marriage in New York.

Catherine Lewis, 54, of Fairport, who attended with her partner of eight years, Angela Bonazinga, said she didn’t think Brooks’ was representing the best interests of the community. She described the potential economic impact as miniscule and said Brooks’ action sent the wrong message about the county.

“It’s just about being fair,” said Neil Floar of Rochester, who married his partner of 38 years, Tom Morse, in Canada in 2004. “We’re not asking for special rights, we’re asking for equal rights.”

No comments: