ALBANY, NY–New York State Bar Association President David P. Miranda today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down state laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that states cannot ban same-sex marriages and they must recognize same–sex marriages performed in other states.
“We are pleased the court found that only marriage can grant full equality to same-sex couples and their families,” said Miranda.
The New York State Bar Association issued a landmark report in 2009 calling for the extension of full marriage rights to same-sex couples as the only legal and pragmatic way to ensure equality. The report noted that same-sex couples who traveled to other states to wed found “a tangle of inconsistent rulings falling far short of the legal stability and equality with marriage” the couples had expected.
“This decision protects same-sex couples married in New York by requiring every state to legally recognize their marital status—when they travel or relocate to another state. It also extends to all gays and lesbians the right to marry in their home states—something New Yorkers have been able to do since 2011,” said Miranda. “Today is a great day for equal justice.”
On April 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in same-sex marriage cases from four states—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. Parties were asked to address two questions: whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry, and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
On March 5, the New York State Bar Association joined 30 organizations nationwide in filing an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court. The brief argued the marriage bans in the four states set people apart and discriminate against gay men, lesbians and their families.
The brief noted the historical extension of constitutional rights and protections in this country.
“The Marriage Bans create a separate and unequal regime for a disfavored class. Continuing to exclude, demean, and stigmatize gay and lesbian individuals and families is inconsistent with that constitutional tradition,” it concluded. Link to brief: www.nysba.org/samesexamicus15.
The brief also argued:
- The bans “exclude a class of people—gay men and lesbians—from the venerated institution of marriage.”
- Marriage Bans set people apart and create situations in which “gay men, lesbians, and their families are deprived of critical benefits enjoyed by their heterosexual neighbors, are subjected to debilitating stigma, and are exposed to increased discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.”
- “[T]hese bans lack any legitimate justification; they have been enacted ‘for the purpose of disadvantaging the group burdened by the law’…. They ‘classif[y] homosexuals not to further proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else.’”
The New York State Bar Association has been a leader in advocating marriage equality. Its 2009 report identified a comprehensive list of rights and responsibilities that were not available to same-sex couples and called on the state Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. It actively promoted enactment of the 2011 law that permits same-sex marriages in New York.
The Association also joined amicus curiae briefs in Windsor v. U.S. and Hollingsworth v. Perry, which were decided by the Supreme Court in 2013.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.