Another State Appeals Court Affirms Marriages of Lesbian and Gay New Yorkers

January 22, 2009 —  Related

  • The NYCLU's Amicus Brief in the Lewis Case (PDF)
  • A New York State appellate court today ruled that the valid marriages of lesbian and gay couples entered into outside of New York must be recognized in this state. This decision comes in the case Lewis v. Department of Civil Service and follows a landmark victory by the New York Civil Liberties Union in Martinez v. County of Monroe.

    “We commend the court on its just and fair decision,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “But we know that lasting progress requires leadership from both the judicial and legislative branches. It’s time for New York’s political leaders to support the core American value of fairness. New Yorkers should not have to leave the state to protect their families.”

    Today’s decision in Lewis was issued by the Third Department and involves taxpayers who sued the state Department of Civil Service for recognizing same-sex spouses of state employees for purposes of health insurance benefits. The court affirmed that the state was following the law by granting all validly married couples eligibility for health insurance benefits. The NYCLU filed an amicus brief in the case.

    The Lewis decision relied on the same legal argument that the NYCLU used in Martinez.

    Martinez v. County of Monroe was brought by the NYCLU with cooperating attorney Jeffrey Wicks on behalf of Patricia Martinez. Martinez, an employee of Monroe Community College in Rochester, sought health care benefits for her wife whom she married in Canada in 2004. The case was filed in 2005 in State Supreme Court. In February of 2008, an appellate court unanimously affirmed the couple’s marriage, the first appellate court decision in the state to hold that a valid same-sex marriage must be recognized.