Monday, March 2, 2009

Mayor of a small town in New York tried to marry same-sex couples 5 years ago: "battles persist in courts, at the polls around the country"

03/02/09 Poughkeepsie Journal: "Starting Feb. 27, 2004, and continuing over the next month, more than 150 same-sex couples were married in New Paltz, [New York] first by [village Mayor Jason] West and later - after West was barred by a court order - by other village officials and two Unitarian ministers. Ultimately, none of the same-sex marriages that took place in New Paltz was ever declared legal. In 2006, New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, upheld a state law declaring a marriage must be between a man and a woman." [Hernandez v. Robles, 7 NY3d 338 (2006)]

This article describes the experiences of the community in the aftermath of West's historic action. West acted a month after San Francisco Mayor Galvin Newsom challenged California's marriage law by marrying same-sex couples. Nevertheless, Susan Sommer, an attorney for Lambda Legal, said that national publicity "really took off when it happened in a small upstate town. People around the country were riveted by seeing the mayor of a little community standing up for same-sex couples, a lot of gay couples began to see the issue as a real possibility that was within reach and not a hypothetical concept."

Brian Raum, senior litigation counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, leads ADF's legal challenge to overturn New York's recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions where they are legal. Sommer has said of this undertaking that ADF has been "out of step with New York law, New York principles, New York courts, New York government. Enough is enough." In fact, Sommer has successfully opposed ADF in a lawsuit that ADF brought against the State University of New York at New Paltz, for issuing health care benefits to the family of an employee who was married to a same-sex spouse in Canada. (As of January 30th, ADF was planning to appeal the case to the New York Court of Appeals.)

"Since 2004, we have seen 30 states pass marriage amendments (banning gay marriage) and none that have not passed," said Raum, "People have decided by a wide majority that they believe marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. When you submit the question to the electorate, that's what they decide."

I credit ADF's monitoring service for alerting me to this article.

No comments:

Commentators, Subjects and Cases