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Kramer Levin Helps Secure Decision Respecting the Marriages of All New York Same-Sex Couples

September 2, 2008

A New York trial court has upheld New York Governor David Paterson’s directive instructing all state agencies to ensure that same-sex couples legally married in other jurisdictions receive the same treatment under New York law as other legally married couples. Justice Lucy Billings of New York Supreme Court, Bronx County, dismissed an Article 78 petition brought by a conservative religious organization seeking to have the Governor’s directive nullified. Petitioners had argued that the Governor violated the separation of powers doctrine and New York State Finance Law by issuing the directive. The proceeding, Golden v. Paterson, was defended both by the Governor and by same-sex spouses who moved to intervene as defendants, represented by Kramer Levin and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Describing the Governor’s directive as “an incremental but important step toward equality long denied,” Justice Billings held that Governor Paterson had acted legally. The directive was consistent with controlling New York appellate case law and New York’s strong common law rule requiring respect for out-of-state marriages that are valid where performed, such as the California and Canadian marriages of same-sex couples. Justice Billings rejected Petitioners’ argument that marriages of same-sex couples cannot be considered "marriages" at all and therefore are not protected by the common law rule.

Kramer Levin partners Jeffrey S. Trachtman and Norman C. Simon and associates Joshua Glick, Jason M. Moff, Aaron S. Fleisher, and Jason M. Litowitz worked with Lambda Legal on this matter. The firm has worked with Lambda Legal on several other marriage recognition cases and was co-counsel in Hernandez v. Robles, which sought equal marriage rights for same sex couples under the New York constitution.

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