A judge in Albany has ruled that New York State should recognize the marriages of same-sex couples whose ceremonies were performed out of state.
The decision, released this morning, comes in one of about half a dozen cases across the state that test whether local or state government must honor gay marriages or civil unions performed in other states or abroad. Judges to take up that question have ruled both ways.
The New York Legislature has not authorized same-sex marriage. And a landmark 2006 decision by the New York Court of Appeals held that the state Constitution does not provide same-sex couples with the right to marriage. But that decision did not say whether New York State should recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
The decision today by Judge Thomas McNamara held that state employees who entered into same-sex marriages out of state should be treated as married for the purposes of collecting benefits under the New York State Retirement System. The decision upholds a 2004 policy of the comptroller's office. That policy was challenged by a Scottsdale, Az.-based organization that opposes same-sex marriage, the Alliance Defense Fund, following the 2006 ruling on same-sex marriage in New York State.
Judge McNamara ruled that the principal of comity required that New York recognize marriages performed elsewhere even though those marriages cannot be performed in New York. The decision today does not explicitly cover civil unions.