Same sex marriage in New York State
Despite the fact that New York is one of the most famous states in the United States in regard to gay rights movement today, it lags behind in ensuring human rights for the gay persons are protected and exercised - Same sex marriage in New York State introduction. It was only in the year 2002 that this state passed gay rights law. New York is believed to have the largest population of gay persons in United States although it is still to settle the issue of gay marriages legalization. The issue of gay or same sex marriage has continued to raise heated debates in New York State as well most parts of the world today.
Debates on same sex marriage has lately increased especially due to the increasing number of individuals who are currently declaring their sexual orientation publicly and the attention this issue has been by media and other lobby and activist groups. Different groups of individuals have different and opposing views as far as gay marriage debate is concerned. Currently, five states and provinces bordering the New York state in the United States have legalized gay marriages which included the state of Massachusetts, Ontario, Quebec, Vermont and Connecticut states.
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In Ontario, New Jersey has legalized same sex unions while the same is forbidden by Pennsylvania’s statute. In New York state, same sex marriage is illegal although in the recent past different bills have been proposed by lobby groups with an aim of lobbying the state to legalize gay marriages in this state. Those opposing the legalization of same sex marriage argue that this is contrary to the religious teachings in relation to marriage. Also, anti-same sex marriage also argues that legalizing gay marriages would destroy the traditional setting and meaning of marriage while also leading to moral degradation in the society (Belge, n. ). On the contrary, pro-gay marriage argue that legalizing gay marriage would strengthen the traditional marriage and help reduce the number of divorce cases being filed each day around the world. Those in favor of same sex marriages legalization in New York State argue that it is would be economically beneficial to the state as well as the gay persons. Also, those in support of same sex marriage argue that the state should be separated from religion and as such, condemning gay marriage based on religious teachings would be erroneous and illegal.
Illegality of gay marriages in New York State has also been challenged on the grounds of an individual’s human rights to marry and choose his or her life partner. Gay marriages have been challenged in different courts in the New York state as well as the country with different rulings being made in all of them. Pro-gay marriages activists in New York are fighting for the legalization of civil marriages for the gay couples (Roskoff, 2004). Different laws have been passed in regard to the issue of same sex marriage in the United States both by the federal government and the states.
In 1996 for example, the federal government passed a marriage act known as DOMA or the defense for marriage act which banned same sex marriage recognition by federal government. However, this act allowed the states to independently decide on matters relating to same sex marriages performed in outside their jurisdiction. Since its inception, 12 states including New York have not passed the defense for marriage act. This amendment was highly opposed by most of the elected officials of the state of New York since it limited marriage to a woman and a man.
Most of the people in New York favor legalization of gay marriages in the state and justice for all are their main concern (King, n. d). Reasons why same sex marriages should be made legal in New York State Though the issue of gay marriages legalization in New York State has been in existence for a long period, it fully came to light in the year 2004 after new Paltz mayor married over 20 gay couples. During the same year, other mayors from New York State recognized these marriages which were being carried out in other jurisdiction and a court suit filed against the Paltz mayor was dropped.
Supporters of same sex marriage thus got better grounds for legalization of same sex marriage in the state of New York. The attorney general of the state of new yolk Spitzer gave an informal opinion after the decision of some mayors to recognize gay marriages in other jurisdictions on which he suggested that marriage certificates should not be issued to married gay couples since it was widely illegal in the state. This was followed by law suits challenging the constitutional definition of marriage that is heterosexual marriages as being legal.
Out of the five law suits which were filed, only one succeeded although it was later reversed at the trial level, four of them failed at the intermediate level while one was undecided. The cases were later combined to make one and then taken to the court of appeals which is the highest court in the state. However, in the year 2006, in a case of Hernandez v. Robles, the court decided that the state of New York did not permit or gay marriages and as such same sex marriages were unconstitutional.
The fight for legalization of same sex marriages in the state has been on since this decision was made and more anti-same sex activists are pushing hard for its legalization. The main arguments today in regard to same sex marriages is that since out-of-state same sex marriages of heterosexual and homosexual couples are recognized in New York State for pension and retirement benefit purposes, same sex marriages should also be recognized and legalized in the state (Belge, n. d).
Different arguments have been put forward in support of same sex marriage legalization in New York State which range from human rights debates to the economic and financial benefits which could accrue from such a move. Justice and equality is one of the major arguments surrounding the issue of same sex marriage legalization in New York State. Pro-gay marriages activists have been pushing for equality and justice for married gay persons in the state and the recognition of their human rights such as rights for association and freedom of choice in relation to marriage partners.
As per se, gay persons are not given civil rights granted to heterosexual couples like the right of joint ownership of property. They are also not issued with marriage certificates for divorce purposes or even inheritance. Under the current marriage act for heterosexual couples, the couples are granted more than 1130 rights and responsibilities. However, gay and lesbian couples are exonerated from enjoying these rights since same sex marriage is not legal thus amounting to inequality and lack of justice.
Also, the different laws and regulations which govern the institution of marriage in the United States discriminate against the gay couples leading to injustice and inequality. As mentioned earlier, the federal government endorsed the defense for marriages act which makes gay marriages illegal in the whole country. However, this act continues to give the states the authority to decide on whether to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages carried out outside their jurisdictions.
As such, same sex marriages which are performed out-of-state may be recognized but citizens who are gay or lesbians are denied similar marriage rights and privileges by the federal government. This should be reversed to ensure equal treatment for all married couples whether out-of-state or those from the New York state (Roskoff, 2004). In the case of Martinez v. county of Monroe decided in February 1st year 2008, an appellate division in the fourth department ruled that all same sex marriages performed in Canada had to be recognized in the state of New York.
The court argued that since out-of-state heterosexual or opposite sex marriages (which under normal circumstances were unrecognized in the New York) were being recognized, it would have been wrong to fail to recognize same sex marriage. The appellate division held that similar treatment had to be given to out-of-state gay or same sex marriages within the jurisdiction of New York State. However, this ruling was subject to overturned especially because the public policy of New York does not recognize same sex marriage and as such this rolling violated it.
This reversed a ruling which had been made in the year 2006 which had ruled that Monroe community college was not obliged to extend health benefits to a spouse of in a same sex marriage. On 22nd day of the same month, Monroe community sought an appeal for the decision or ruling on the Martinez case. However, on March 6th the same year, the court of appeals refused to hear the case thus letting the decision of the lower court to stand.
Eventually, the Monroe County decided to drop the case (Belge, n. d). Anti-gay marriages argue that sustaining same sex marriage in New York State would be lead to increased costs thus placing more weight to monetary consideration on the issue of marriage rather than the natural feelings of individuals and their rights of marriage and happiness. Equality and justice for all seems so far away given the idea that homosexuals and lesbians has been around ever since the ancient Greek times.
The ancient Greeks who had established first laws of the democratic land didn’t seemed to have a burdened notion when the truest expression of love, sex, and liaisons both psychical and spiritual had to be attained and refrained from the arbitration of modern society. It has become a fight for justice and inequality with most of its matters today linked with money and its revenues for each state in dire need to look at the moral issues the same way the Ancient Greeks have done so eloquently. For the most part, I believe same-sex marriages are about morality and human needs more so than improper prosperity (King, n. ). All individuals are equal under the law and should be given equal treatment when it comes to marriage relationships. The state or government should not interfere with the personal lives on its citizens unless such individuals pose a great danger to the security of the sate or the citizens. As such, it would be illegal for the state to interfere with an individual’s marital life. Also, marriage is supposed to be a private institution between two individuals who love each other and the government has no right of choosing whom a person is to marry or love regardless of the individuals’ sexual orientation.
Just as the government does not interfere with the marriage choices of heterosexual couples, the same way it should not interfere with the personal lives of homosexual couples. Equality should be upheld in issues relating to marriage partner choice of an individual. Individuals in a free country like United States are free to make their own choices regarding their personal lives. Matters of marriage are private issues which the states should not interfere with unless there is a major dispute within the marriage institution which warrants states interference.
Whomever a person decided to marry should not raise legal concern and a person should be allowed to marry a person of his or her choice (Belge, n. d). As mentioned earlier, pro-gay marriages activists fight for the recognition of these marriages on the grounds of civil rights of individuals. Most of those opposing gay marriages in the New York state based their arguments on the religious teaching which view gay marriages as being unnatural and sinful. However, it is common knowledge that recognition of civil marriage rights for the gay persons would not affect the organization and systems of the churches, mosques and synagogues.
Catholics for example do not marry couples or individuals who have divorced despite the fact that civil marriage laws in the state allow such marriages and this has been practiced for a long time. Also, the churches and other religious groups would not be required to perform religious rites and ceremonies for civil gay marriages in the state thus separating the religious believes and state functions. Constitutionally, the state and religious groups are independent of each other and the state is supreme. Its role is to ensure that all civil rights of all individuals are exercised without discrimination.
As such, civil marriages for the gays should be legalized as this would only amount to exercise of civil rights by these individuals. Also, the argument that legalizing civil marriages for the gay persons would weaken the sanctity of marriage is baseless especially with high cases of divorce being filed with the main reasons being infidelity and domestic violence. These are the major causes which undermine a marriage’s sanctity rather than recognition of civil marriages for the gay and lesbian couples (Roskoff, 2004).
Benefits that may accrue to the New York State if gay marriages were made legal Legalization of gay marriages in New York State is expected to pay off economically as well as morally. A report compiled by the states comptroller office found that legalization of gay marriages would lead to an increase of $ 210 million for a period of three years with businesses expected to spend about $ 69 million for the same period in terms of health insurance benefits for homosexual couples. This would leave the state with a net income of about $ 109 million.
Currently, same sex couples are not allowed to own property jointly and are not required to file for joint tax returns since this kind of marriage is not recognized by the state. Marriage enables people to combine their efforts in the management of estates thus leading to increased investment. Also, it creates a wider financial base for the couples which in turn increase the tax returns in a state. Legalizing gay marriages would thus be economically beneficial for the New York state (Peters, 2009).
Marriage is also the structure which holds a society together and without it, the state would collapse or be in disunity. There are social effects which can accrue from legalization of gay marriages in New York. Illegalizing gay marriage would encourage moral degradation especially an unmarried person does not feel obliged to be faithful or act sexually responsible. Unmarried people are known to lead risky sexual lives which may lead to death especially in this era of AIDS and other communicable diseases.
Marriage helps individuals shun high risk sexual lives as individuals settle in the marriage life. Legalizing gay marriages would help individuals as well as the state to lead a morally right life rather than the high risk sexual life (King, n. d). Conclusion Same sex marriage legalization has been a major issue in New York State for quite some time now as more people come out in support of it. However, the state and federal laws still consider gay marriages illegal which have raised major questions on equality, justice and civil rights for gay couples.
Being gay is not a matter of choice but it has been proved to be caused by biological factors and as such, individuals who are gay should not be denied their rights to marry just because of their sexual orientation. Also, all the rights and responsibilities accorded by the law by heterosexual couple should also be granted to same sex couples for equality and justice to be upheld. Apart from ensuring legal rights for the gay persons, New York State would also benefit economically as well as socially from legalization of gay marriages.