Last week, Governor David A. Paterson did the right thing, legally and morally, by announcing that New York State will fully honor same sex civil marriages that are legally performed in other jurisdictions. The state of New York provides 1,324 rights and responsibilities to legally married couples. My congratulations go out to the couples and families who will now enjoy the benefit of those rights and privileges—at the same time that I am mindful of how painfully long in coming this day has been.
The backlash in some quarters against Governor Paterson’s decision is as predictable as it is misguided. In New York State the recognition of marriages that are legally performed in other jurisdictions, but which would not be legal under our own state law, is well grounded in precedent. I am therefore confident that any legal challenges to the Governor’s action will fail.
As important as this step was, it is also a reminder of how much more work we have to do to protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian New Yorkers. I continue to disagree with the July 2006 court of appeals' decision in Hernandez v. Robles finding that current state law bars the performance of same sex marriages in New York State.
I am committed to working with Governor Paterson and the legislature to enact full marriage equality in our state. Equal protection under the law demands no less.