Relates to individuals ability to marry.
BILL NUMBER: S4401
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to the ability to marry
This bill provides same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples. The bill also provides that no member of the clergy may be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section 1 of the bill sets forth legislative intent.
Section 2 of the bill adds a new Section 10-a to the Domestic Relations Law (DRL) providing that: (1) a marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex; (2) no government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex; and (3) all relevant gender-specific language set forth in' or referenced by New York law shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner.
Section 3 of the bill amends DRL § 13 to provide that no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex.
Section 4 of the bill amends DRL § 11(1) to make clear that no member of the clergy acting in such capacity may be required to perform any marriage.
Section 5 of the bill sets forth the effective date.
EXISTING LAW :
Although the Domestic Relations Law contains no specific prohibition against, or allowance for, marriages between individuals of the same sex, the New York Court of Appeals has held that New York statutory law limits marriage within New York State to opposite-sex couples. SEE HERNANDEZ V. ROBLES , 7 N.Y.3d 338 (2005).
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT :
The "freedom to marry" is, in the words of the United States Supreme Court, "one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free people ."1 In New York, however, certain couples who seek to exercise this freedom, and partake of its rights and responsibilities by mutual consent, may not do so solely because they are of the same sex. The bar against same-sex marriages exists regardless of how long the individuals have lived together, or whether they are raising children through legally recognized joint custody arrangements. This bill removes the barriers in New York law that deprive individuals of the equal right to marry the person of their choice, by granting the same legal recognition to all civil marriages regardless of whether those who enter into them are of the same, or of a different, sex.
Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage - and their children lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples. In such areas as property ownership, inheritance, health care, hospital visitation, taxation, insurance coverage, child custody, pension benefits and testimonial privileges, married couples receive important safeguards against the loss or injury of a spouse, and crucial assurances against legal intrusion into their marital privacy. As important, unions lacking the State's recognition are denoted, by force of law, as somehow not equal to other comparable relationships. Civil marriage is the means by which the State defines a couple's place in society. Those who are excluded from its rubric are told by the institutions of the State, in essence; that their solemn commitment to one another has no legal weight.
Just as the right to marry confers important benefits on individuals, the institution of marriage produces incalculable benefits for society, by fostering stable familial relationships. Same-sex couples who wish to marry are not simply looking to obtain additional rights, they are seeking out substantial responsibilities as well: to undertake significant and binding obligations to one another, and to lives of "shared intimacy and mutual financial and emotional support."2 Granting legal recognition to these relationships can only strengthen New York's families, by extending the ability to participate in this crucial social institution to all New Yorkers.
The history of this country for more than two centuries has been the story of once excluded individuals and groups gaining gradual access to equal rights under law. New York State, in particular, has played a proud and honorable part in that history, from hosting the foundational women's rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, to breaking baseball's color barrier, to witnessing the seminal event of the modem gay rights movement in New York City four decades ago. New York legislators and other political leaders, of both parties and of all viewpoints, have had an important role in this process, and in the gradual extension of equal treatment to gays and lesbians in particular. In 1983, Governor Mario Cuomo first banned discrimination in state employment by Executive Order. In 2002, Governor Pataki extended the same principle to the private sector by signing into law the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. That year, the State gave its first legal recognition to same-sex relationships when the Legislature unanimously passed - and the Governor signed - a bill extending workers' compensation benefits to all those who lost a partner on 9/11. Yet the institution of marriage remains closed to loving same-sex couples who seek only to be able to show their mutual commitment as other individuals do. Passage of this bill would remedy that flaw, and represent yet another important and historic step in the process by which all citizens of New York State are granted full and equal rights.
Individuals on both sides of the questions raised by this bill hold deep-seated views that arise from a host of ethical and religious considerations. To ensure that the bill does not improperly intrude into matters of conscience or religious belief, the bill affirms that no member of the clergy can be compelled to solemnize any marriage. In short, this bill grants equal access to the government-created legal institution of civil marriage, while leaving the religious institution of marriage to its own separate, and fully autonomous, sphere.
BUDGET IMPLICATIONS :
The bill will require additional state expenditures for " spousal benefits for those partners of state employees who are not eligible for such benefits under current law, and who are married under this legislation. At the same time, however, allowing same-sex marriage would have numerous positive fiscal impacts. A 2007 report by the New York City Comptroller detailed numerous sources of added revenue that would result from enacting marriage equality in New York State, including tax revenue from additional weddings, higher intake of marital licensing fees and reduction of means-tested benefit payments as a result of aggregated marital income. Moreover, any negative budgetary impact from added benefit payments will be limited, as many same-sex couples already enjoy such benefits through a variety of administrative schemes, or as a result of out-of-state marriages.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This bill takes effect immediately. 1 Loving v. Virginia 388 U.S. (1967). 2 Hernandez v. Robles, 7 N.Y. 3d 338 (2005) (Kaye, C.J., dissenting).
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4401 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 22, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. DUANE, ADAMS, BRESLIN, DILAN, ESPADA, C. JOHNSON, KLEIN, KRUEGER, MONTGOMERY, OPPENHEIMER, PARKER, PERKINS, SAVINO, SCHNEIDERMAN, SERRANO, SQUADRON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS, THOMPSON -- (at request of the Governor) -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to the ability to marry THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. Marriage is a fundamental human right. Same-sex couples and their children should have the same access as others to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations, and benefits of civil marriage. Stable family relationships help build a stronger society. For the welfare of the community and in fairness to all New Yorkers, this act formally recognizes otherwise-valid marriages without regard to whether the parties are of the same or different sex. It is the intent of the legislature that the marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples be treated equally in all respects under the law. The omission from this act of changes to other provisions of law shall not be construed as a legislative intent to preserve any legal distinction between same-sex couples and different-sex couples with respect to marriage. The legislature intends that all provisions of law which utilize gender-specific terms in reference to the parties to a marriage, or which in any other way may be inconsistent with this act, be construed in a gender-neutral manner or in any way necessary to effectuate the intent of this act. S 2. The domestic relations law is amended by adding a new section 10-a to read as follows: S 10-A. SEX OF PARTIES. 1. A MARRIAGE THAT IS OTHERWISE VALID SHALL BE VALID REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE PARTIES TO THE MARRIAGE ARE OF THE SAME OR DIFFERENT SEX.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD12040-01-9 S. 4401 2
2. NO GOVERNMENT TREATMENT OR LEGAL STATUS, EFFECT, RIGHT, BENEFIT, PRIVILEGE, PROTECTION OR RESPONSIBILITY RELATING TO MARRIAGE, WHETHER DERIVING FROM STATUTE, ADMINISTRATIVE OR COURT RULE, PUBLIC POLICY, COMMON LAW OR ANY OTHER SOURCE OF LAW, SHALL DIFFER BASED ON THE PARTIES TO THE MARRIAGE BEING OR HAVING BEEN OF THE SAME SEX RATHER THAN A DIFFERENT SEX. WHEN NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT THE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBIL- ITIES OF SPOUSES UNDER THE LAW, ALL GENDER-SPECIFIC LANGUAGE OR TERMS SHALL BE CONSTRUED IN A GENDER-NEUTRAL MANNER IN ALL SUCH SOURCES OF LAW. S 3. Section 13 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter 720 of the laws of 1957, is amended to read as follows: S 13. Marriage licenses. It shall be necessary for all persons intended to be married in New York state to obtain a marriage license from a town or city clerk in New York state and to deliver said license, within sixty days, to the clergyman or magistrate who is to officiate before the marriage ceremony may be performed. In case of a marriage contracted pursuant to subdivision four of section eleven of this chap- ter, such license shall be delivered to the judge of the court of record before whom the acknowledgment is to be taken. If either party to the marriage resides upon an island located not less than twenty-five miles from the office or residence of the town clerk of the town of which such island is a part, and if such office or residence is not on such island such license may be obtained from any justice of the peace residing on such island, and such justice, in respect to powers and duties relating to marriage licenses, shall be subject to the provisions of this article governing town clerks and shall file all statements or affidavits received by him while acting under the provisions of this section with the town clerk of such town. NO APPLICATION FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE SHALL BE DENIED ON THE GROUND THAT THE PARTIES ARE OF THE SAME, OR A DIFFER- ENT, SEX. S 4. Subdivision 1 of section 11 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter 319 of the laws of 1959, is amended to read as follows: 1. A clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader, or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture in the city of New York, having its principal office in the borough of Manhat- tan, or by the leader of The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, having its principal office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society, having its principal office in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of the River- dale-Yonkers Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx coun- ty, or by the leader of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated with the American Ethical Union; PROVIDED THAT NO CLERGYMAN, MINISTER OR SOCIETY FOR ETHICAL CULTURE LEADER SHALL BE REQUIRED TO SOLEMNIZE ANY MARRIAGE WHEN ACTING IN HIS OR HER CAPACITY UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION. S 5. This act shall take effect immediately.