Friday, February 4, 2005

New York, New York – Five same-sex couples won a major victory Friday as a New York State court ruled that gay couples must be allowed to marry.

Doris Ling-Cohan, a New York state Supreme Court justice, said New York’s state constitution guarantees lesbian and gay people equal access to marriage rights that are violated when same-sex couples are not allowed to marry.

“This is a historic ruling that delivers the state Constitution’s promise of equality to all New Yorkers,” Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney at Lambda Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement to reporters.

In the New York State justice system, the Supreme Court is court in which cases originate, and is not the highest court. Decisions from the Supreme Court may, with reason, be appealed to the Appellate Division, and possibly beyond that to the Court of Appeals, the highest court in the New York State justice system.

Justice Ling-Cohan ordered the New York City Clerk’s office to start issuing marriage licences to same-sex couple within 30 days. An appeal is expected.