Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Albany | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Court debates same sex marriage

video report on the oral arguments yesterday

Albany | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Court debates same sex marriage

ALBANY, N.Y. -- “Our marriage certificate is no different than any other couple that goes to Canada and comes back and they're married when they cross the border,” said Michael Sabatino, Westchester resident.

The only difference, Michael Sabbatino says, is that his spouse is a man.

“Marriage is important for us because it's the only way I can protect my husband, my family, under the law,” said Robert Voorhees, Westchester resident.

But broad recognition of out-of-state marriages has been the law here, it's been the law for a very long time.

“We have historically granted recognition to all kinds of other marriages including one between an uncle and niece in Rhode Island,” said Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel.

“The marriages that are recognized in New York involve a man and a woman,” said Brian Raum, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel.

But the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona based Christian legal group, argued before the state's highest court Tuesday that state agencies overstepped their bounds when they offered benefits to same-sex couples married out of state.

“County executives and state officials have made broad proclamations that have to be reined in,” said Ruam.

Attorney Brian Raum says the rights and benefits that are afforded to domestic partnerships and civil unions fall short of those afforded by marriage and if New York wants to afford same-sex couples those rights, the legislature, not the court, must be the one to change the law.

The Assembly has twice passed bills allowing same-sex marriage in the state but the Senate has not. Until then, supporters for benefits for same-sex couples say New York's policy of recognizing out of state marriages should serve as precedent.

“We are hopeful that this court will not issue a ruling that will undue what is now well settled state policy,” said Sommer.

“Nothing will protect our family the way marriage will,” said Voorhes.

The court should announce its decision within a couple of months.

No comments: