New York Recognizes Same Sex Marriage
The New York gay and lesbian community has always struggled to gain approval from their fellow peers. The enactment of the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, made it so that same-sex couples are finally granted the right to marry. For the first time in history, New Yorkers can enjoy in the rights and responsibility of marriage, the same as opposite-sex couples.
The Marriage Equality Act is a New York State law that amended the domestic relations law. The amendment was made in relation to the “ability” to marry. Citing the fact that marriage is a fundamental human right, same- sex couples were given the same access as heterosexual couples to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage.
Under the act, the state of New York formally recognized all marriages, without regards to whether the parties were of the same, or opposite sex. In addition to allowing same-sex couples to marry, the language used in relation to marriage was changed to be gender- neutral; therefore, all legal documents and terms pertaining to marriage will no longer be gender-specific. Furthermore, all government treatment to parties in relation to legal status, rights, or benefits shall not differ in the manner that opposite-sex couples are treated.
The Marriage Equality act was a major stride in the gay and lesbian rights movement. The amendment will treat all couples equally under the eyes of the law; however, there are provisions contained within the amendment that protect religious organizations from civil lawsuits.
The act gives benevolent organizations the right to refuse to provide accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges to same-sex couples if it is against their beliefs. This means that churches have the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples if they are against marrying them for religious or moral reasons, and same-sex couples do not have the right to take legal action against the church or religious organization for refusing to marry them.
People within the gay and lesbian community are celebrating their newfound right to marry. As in all marriages, gay or straight, there are matters to be addressed such as premarital agreements or postnuptial agreements. Since same-sex couples can now enjoy the rights and benefits of their heterosexual counterparts, they can also enjoy the protections afforded to them by family law.
If you are planning to marry your partner, you should contact an experienced family attorney who is well-versed in every aspect of marriage and divorce. Since the laws pertaining to same-sex marriages are constantly changing, it is always a good idea to discuss your marriage with a qualified attorney who is abreast of any changes to the laws and how they pertain to you. A family lawyer will be able to explain your rights and responsibilities in a same-sex marriage and they will be able to explain the laws pertaining to assets, property, insurance and what to expect in the event of a divorce. Don’t hesitate to contact a family law attorney to discuss your same-sex marriage!