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Aug 12, 2005

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Volume 33
Issue 32

 
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Lambda Legal defends New York marriage ruling
Lambda Legal defends New York marriage ruling
NEW YORK - This week, Lambda Legal filed papers in the Appellate Division, First Department (the state's middle court) to defend a lower court ruling that said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in New York City. The City filed an appeal seeking to overturn the ruling earlier this spring.

"The city based its appeal on the assertion that it is important to support heterosexual procreation-but in so doing the government turns its back on children raised by same-sex couples who must go without the protections that come with civil marriage," said Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the case. "Over half of all of the same-sex couples in New York are raising children."

In the brief filed this week, Lambda Legal argued that the trial court was right when it ruled that barring same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional and denies them a host of protections that couples who are married enjoy. Lambda Legal argued that the city is wrong in basing its appeal on an outdated case that relied on the "Book of Genesis." The city also argues that the government has an interest in supporting heterosexuals who have children but doesn't explain why it doesn't offer those same protections to children born to same-sex couples.

In her Feb. 4, 2005 trial court ruling, Justice Ling-Cohan wrote that barring "access to civil marriage denies plaintiffs something irreplaceable." The ruling further stated that, "Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing." The lower court's decision held that Gay and Lesbian couples are entitled to the liberty to marry the person they love just like all other New Yorkers are free to do.

Over 100 organizations and individuals have filed papers as friends-of-the-court to support Lambda Legal's arguments, including the New York County Lawyers' Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, Empire State Pride Agenda, National Organization for Women-New York State, the American Psychological Association and Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, among others.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit in March 2004 seeking marriage licenses for same-sex couples in New York, arguing that denying them marriage violates the state Constitution's guarantees of equality, liberty and privacy for all New Yorkers. The trial court issued its ruling in Lambda Legal's favor in February this year, which New York City decided to appeal. On March 31, New York's highest court ruled that the case should be heard in the mid-level appeals court, where Lambda currently makes its arguments for marriage equality in the state.
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