Volume 5, Number 26 | June 29 – July 5, 2006


New York’s Highest Court Rejects Gay Marriage Lawsuits

Rallies to demonstrate determination to win in the State Legislature planned for this evening

This morning the New York State Court of Appeals announced that by a 4-2 vote, with one judge not participating: "We hold that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the Legislature."

The Empire State Pride Agenda, in coordination with other leading gay rights advocates, plans a show of determination in the state’s LGBT community with rallies in seven cities this evening. In New York City, people will gather in Sheridan Square at 6 p.m.

Writing for three members of the four-judge majority, Judge Robert S. Smith wrote: "Our conclusion that there is a rational basis for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples leads us to hold that that limitation is valid under the New York Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and that any expansion of the traditional definition of marriage should come from the Legislature."

In a concurring opinion for two of the four-four judge majority, Judge Victoria A. Graffeo wrote: "Neither men nor women are disproportionately disadvantaged or burdened by the fact that New York’s Domestic Relations Law allows only opposite-sex couples to marry — both genders are treated precisely the same way… The Legislature has granted the benefits (and responsibilities) of marriage to the class-opposite-sex couples-that it concluded most required the privileges and burdens the institution entails due to inherent procreative capabilities. This type of determination is a central legislative function and lawmakers are afforded leeway in fulfilling this function."

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, writing in a lengthy and spirited dissent for the two-judge minority, wrote: "Under both the State and Federal Constitutions, the right to due process of law protects certain fundamental liberty interests, including the right to marry. Central to the right to marry is the right to marry the person of one’s choice… Simply put, fundamental rights are fundamental rights. They are not defined in terms of who is entitled to exercise them. …That restrictions on same-sex marriage are prevalent cannot in itself justify their retention. After all, widespread public opposition to interracial marriage in the years before Loving [the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning interracial marriage bans] could not sustain the anti-miscegenation laws… It is uniquely the function of the Judicial Branch to safeguard individual liberties guaranteed by the New York State Constitution, and to order redress for their violation. The Court’s duty to protect constitutional rights is an imperative of the separation of powers, not its enemy. I am confident that future generations will look on today’s decision as an unfortunate misstep."

Rallies planned for this evening across the state are scheduled as follows:

New York City

Start time: 6:00pm

Location: Sheridan Square (West 4th Street and 7th Ave., Manhattan)

Contact: Monique George


Albany/Capital District

Start time: 6:00pm

Location: Capitol Park (Washington Ave & Swan St, adjacent to the State Capitol Building)

Contact: Nora Yates


Buffalo/Western NY

Start time: 6:00pm

Location: Bidwell Park (@Elmwood Avenue)

Contact: Todd Plank


Hudson Valley

Start time: 7:00pm

Location: Memorial United Methodist Church (250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains)

Contact: Nicolas Calabro


Long Island

Start time: 7:30pm

Location: 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore; march to Bandshell (Main Street at Park Ave.)

Contact: Tiffany Cutrone



Start time: 6:00pm

Location: Washington Square Park

Contact: Todd Plank


Syracuse/Central NY

Start time: 7:00pm

Location: Hanover Square (Downtown Syracuse)

Contact: Nora Yates


For full reports on the ruling and the rallies, visit http://gaycitynews.com throughout the day, as event unfold., visit http://gaycitynews.com.