Integrity Legal

18th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Governor of the sovereign State of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has proposed a bill which would provide same sex marriage benefits to those within that jurisdiction. To provide further insight on this issue it may be best to quote directly from a posting by Jay Kernis in which lawyer Evan Wolfson of the organization Freedom To Marry was interviewed on the official website of CNN, CNN.com:

On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a bill to bring marriage equality to New York State. What does the The Marriage Equality Act permit to happen? If passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, the marriage bill will secure for committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry – with the same rules, same responsibilities, and same respect. It will more than double the number of Americans living in a state where gay couples can marry – from 16 million to 35 million.  And it will permit more families to strengthen their love and commitment and ability to care for one another, while taking nothing away from anyone else…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks noted above to learn more details about these issues.

As frequent readers of this blog may be aware, the issue of same sex marriage is of concern for the LGBT community, especially those same sex bi-national couples who are currently separated pursuant to application of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which effectively precludes same sex bi-national couples from receiving the same visa benefits as their different sex counterparts. Meanwhile, efforts have been made on behalf of the LGBT community by legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda who have introduced federal legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Reuniting Families Act. As of the time of this writing none of this legislation has seen passage in the United States Congress.

The issue of same sex marriage may also be important in an intraState context as there are many benefits for couples who are married. To quote further from the aforementioned posting:

[M]arriage is a system – it brings clarity, security, and tangible and intangible protections as couples move from state to state, interact with employers or businesses, or deal with the federal government…

Truer words have never been written. The institution of marriage is important as it provides concrete evidence of a given couple’s relationship and also may lead to other types of benefits. This blogger would argue that one of the main benefits of a State licensed same sex marriage is the fact that such a union should be accorded Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution provided that such a union occurs within a State which legalizes and solemnizes such unions. At present, the federal government, through enforcement of DOMA, does not recognize same sex marriages for purposes of according legal benefits, but there are currently two pending lawsuits which arose in the sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sovereign State of California that could overturn this policy. However, as of the time of this writing, such developments remain to be seen.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.


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