NY Comptroller Sued for Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages

September 14, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi is being challenged over his recognition of Canadian same-sex marriages for public retirement system benefits.

New York ‘s all news channel, 1010 WINS, said the lawsuit was filed by four Westchester County residents and the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund. They claim Hevesi acted illegally when he decided in 2004 that the retirement system would treat Canadian same-sex couples the same as traditional married couples.

The Alliance Defense Fund claims Hevesi lacks authority to recognize Canadian same-sex unions, noting that New York’s Court of Appeals has ruled in July that marriage is between a man and a woman (See NY High Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage ).

Hevesi supports gay marriage, but said his policy decision was based solely on laws governing the retirement system, according to the news report. He said the law is clear that the state recognizes Canadian marriages in accordance with Canadian laws, which includes same-sex marriages.

Hevesi’s policy means surviving same-sex partners from Canadian marriages could in some cases be eligible for accidental death benefits or cost-of-living adjustments from the retirement system. A Hevesi spokesman said the benefits are generally not awarded very often.