San Diego, Calif. – A New York appellate court ruled unanimously Feb. 1 that the state must recognize same-sex marriages from countries that allow them – Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and South Africa – and from Massachusetts, the only U.S. state that allows them.
"Congratulations to all same-sex couples validly married outside of New York state," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which filed the case. "You are now considered married in New York as well."
The case, Martinez v. County of Monroe, was filed in 2005 on behalf of Patricia Martinez, an employee of Monroe Community College in Rochester, who married her wife, Lisa Golden, in Ontario and then was not allowed to add Golden to her health-insurance plan.
The case dealt solely with whether the time-honored "marriage recognition rule" applies to same-sex marriages.
"If a marriage is valid in the state or country in which the marriage took place, New York law generally requires the recognition of that marriage," said Arthur Eisenberg, the NYCLU's legal director. "This case involved a straightforward application of that principle."
Canada has no citizenship or residency requirements for getting married, and numerous U.S. same-sex couples have crossed the border and tied the knot, often in a one-day visit.