NY’s Highest Court Upholds Lesbian Couple’s Canadian Marriage


Photo by Donnay via Flickr

A lesbian couple’s marriage in Canada should be recognized in New York State, the state’s highest court ruled today by letting stand an earlier appellate court decision that recognized the validity of the couple’s Canadian nuptial.

“Today is a great day for fairness in New York State,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “This is a victory for families, and it’s a victory for human rights. Congratulations to all gay and lesbian couples validly married outside of New York State. Now we need to work toward a New York where you don’t have to cross state or country lines to get married.”

In February, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling by a judge which held that Monroe County Community College did not have to extend benefits to Patricia Martinez’s wife Lisa Ann Golden. The couple wed in Canada in 2004. The college has since updated its policy and extends benefits to domestic partners

That appellate court reversal was the first in the state to hold that a valid same-sex marriage must be recognized in New York State. The County of Monroe, which is near Rochester, appealed the decision but the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, let the earlier ruling stand.

“If a marriage is valid in the state or country in which the marriage took place, New York law generally requires the recognition of that marriage,” said Arthur Eisenberg, the NYCLU’s legal director. “This case involved a straightforward application of that principle.”