NY High Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage

July 6, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The New York Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that state law does not permit gay marriage, striking down 44 gay and lesbian couples' contention that the law defied their constitutional rights.

According to a 70-page opinion written by Judge Robert Smith, any change in the law that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman would have to be handed down by the state legislature.

The human resources community has been following gay marriage legislation and court battles closely, keeping in mind that any decisions on same-sex marriage could also impact benefits offerings for same-sex couples.

A New Hampshire Superior Court judge recently ruled that it is discriminatory to refuse same-sex couples family health and bereavements benefits if it is illegal for them to be married (See NH Judge Says Refusing Same-Sex Benefits Discriminatory ).

The four New York cases were filed soon after a ruling two years ago by a Massachusetts court that decided same-sex couples reserve the same right to get married as straight ones.

“We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives,” Judge Smith wrote in the opinion.