Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The marriage recognition rule seems to be tripping up the Court of Appeals. It needn't.

"Judge Pigott frequently returned to his point that recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages would discriminate against the New York residents who are in domestic partnerships or civil unions, but who have not crossed across the border to get married in Vermont or Canada, two nearby jurisdictions where same-sex marriages are now legal.

"We're going to say to Canadians and to Vermont residents and to people of other states that, 'You're more valuable to us than our own residents,'" Judge Pigott said. "That, if you're married in Canada, we're going to recognize your marriage. But if you have a civil union or a domestic partnership in the state of New York we're not."

The problem here is that there are two problems. One is the problem identified by Judge Pigott: New York ought not treat its own residents like second class citizens. That's not the issue before the court-- that is something, the Court of Appeals has already ruled, that the crooked and incompetent New York State Legislature has to deal with. Western New York's own State Senator William Stachowski is the chief impediment to this-- people should write to him. The other problem is less of a problem. Lots of places have different rules about marriage. Different kinds of cousins can get married in some places, there are different rules for what constitutes legal age, there may even still be places that recognize common law marriages. As long as the marriage was legit where it was entered into, if you are living in New York you are entitled to the protection of the laws of the state of New York. That's been the rule for a long time, and it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out in this case.

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