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NY Highest court to rule on Same Sex marriage
NY Highest court to rule on Same Sex marriage
I think marriage should be for two people regardless of gender. There are many Federal and State benefits that gays and lesbians should get equal access. They pay the same taxes and marriage is not just for procreation, as we let infertile old people and sterilized people marry. Polygamy is not the proper comparison, as a marriage can be limited to two people. If more want to join they can make a civil partnership or incorporate!
Besides, why should hetero couples be the only ones to suffer marriage? Let the gays suffer too!
Highest Court in New York Confronts Gay Marriage
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS
ALBANY, May 31 – As the issue of gay marriage finally reached New York State's highest court on Wednesday, the six judges who heard the passionate arguments from both sides put forth a fundamental question: Has marriage been defined by history, culture and tradition since the dawn of Western civilization, or is it an evolving social institution that should change with the times?
During the two and a half hours of oral argument, the judges on the Court of Appeals grappled with essential questions of social values, asking tough questions without tipping their hands as to their ultimate decision.
They wanted to know whether there were studies showing that children raised by mothers and fathers turned out better than those raised by same-sex couples, and they wanted to know whether opening the door to gay marriage would also open the door to bigamy or polygamy.
They wanted to know whether asking the courts to rewrite New York State's marriage laws was a way of letting the State Legislature escape responsibility for taking a position on a social controversy.
The case before the court was a challenge to New York State's marriage laws, filed by 44 same-sex couples. Their lawyers argued that marriage was a fundamental right, and compared laws assuming marriage to be a union of a man and a woman to the laws prohibiting interracial marriage, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1967.
Lawyers defending the marriage laws argued that even if the institution had evolved, it was the job of the Legislature – not the courts – to change them.
The plaintiffs' lawyers argued that the court merely had to change the gender-based language of the current law, which refers to "husband" and "wife," to something neutral, like "spouse." If the court agreed to legalize same-sex marriages, New York would become only the second state, after Massachusetts, to do so.
The judges' questions pointed to the precedent-setting nature of the debate. "Isn't this the only one where you have literally the whole history of Western civilization against you?" asked Judge Robert S. Smith of the state's domestic relations law. "That does go back right to the dawn of civilization."
After first citing traditional views of marriage, Judge Smith then asked whether the time was ripe for the courts to approve same-sex marriage. Judge Smith also wondered whether the issue of same-sex marriage deserved special attention because of the history of discrimination against gay people.
"Aren't homosexuals about the classic example of people who have been abused and discriminated against," and who therefore need the protection of the courts? he asked.
Peter H. Schiff, senior counsel to the state attorney general, said there was no urgent need to change the law, and pointed out that same-sex couples accounted for only 1.3 percent of all households in New York State, a "very small" number.
"I don't think anybody 100 years ago was thinking about this issue," Mr. Schiff said. "It wasn't on the radar screen."
The main lawsuit in this case was filed by a gay and lesbian rights group, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, on behalf of five same-sex New York City couples against the city clerk, Victor L. Robles, who issues marriage licenses.
In New York, the legal dispute over same-sex marriage goes back two years. In February 2005, a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan found that state marriage law violated the State Constitution. That decision was overturned last December by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, which said it was up to the Legislature to change the law.
In yesterday's hearing, the New York City plaintiffs were joined by three other groups of plaintiffs from across the state. New York City's lawyer, Leonard Koerner, said yesterday that even in its own case law, the Court of Appeals had affirmed the reason for marriage as "the begetting of offspring," not, as the plaintiffs argued, as the sanctioning of a loving and committed union between two people.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said that New York City is appealing the case to clarify the issue, and that he supports legislative change.
Roberta A. Kaplan, arguing for same-sex marriage on behalf of 12 of the couples across the state, said there were 46,000 families with children headed by same-sex couples in New York State, and that they could not wait until their children were grown for the law to change.
The seventh judge on the Court of Appeals, Albert M. Rosenblatt, removed himself from the case. His daughter, a lawyer, has argued on behalf of advocates for same-sex marriage in California. Judge Rosenblatt has been perceived as a swing vote in many cases. A spokesman for the court said that in the event of a 3-3 tie, another judge could be brought in. He said a tie had occurred only once in the last 20 years or so.
Judge Victoria A. Graffeo asked whether, under the plaintiffs' argument, the Legislature should afford more rights and benefits to other types of family arrangements, such as two sisters raising children. "Was the Legislature denying them due process or equal protection?" she asked.
Judge George Bundy Smith asked what the consequences of legalizing gay marriage had been in Massachusetts.
"Basically nothing," Ms. Kaplan replied. "There is not a breakdown of civil society in Massachusetts and there certainly isn't a breakdown of marriage."
Judge Bundy Smith also asked why gay couples were not satisfied with civil unions – a remedy that the plaintiffs argued would make them second-class citizens.
Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye said the court would have to decide the constitutional questions, "whether we do it frontally or whether we do it in some more subversive way," like changing language about gender.
To which Terence Kindlon, a lawyer for same-sex couples in Albany, replied, "Subversive is one of the words I've liked all my life, your honor."
6/1/2006 12:33 pm
The attorney in you is showing! How you been? Haven't chatted or seen you online... Hope you are well.|
6/1/2006 4:05 pm
I am fine and admit I think like an attorney, as I am one... But that is a good thing. Attorneys can think logically, clearly and can articluate their reasoning. Could be worse...|