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After Legalizing Gay Divorce NY Okays Gay Marriage

Published on 07/01/2011 -

After Legalizing Gay Divorce, NY Okays Gay Marriage

June was a big month for civil rights activists: on the 24th, New York state passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage. The law expands the state's already relatively tolerant policies on same sex couples. Here's a look back at the legality of marriage in the state.

The Path to Same-Sex Marriage in the Empire State

  • February 2004: Small town New York mayors announce that their cities will recognize same-sex marriages. The mayors begin performing ceremonies. One is charged with misdemeanors (though the charges are eventually dropped). The state doesn't recognize the unions.
  • March 2004: The Attorney General's office issues an informal opinion suggesting mayors shouldn't violate state law by performing same-sex marriages. The same document notes that NY will recognize the same-sex unions of those married in other states.
  • February 2005: The state's Supreme Court rules that New York can't deny marriage to same-sex couples because of the Constitution's equal protection clause.
  • December 2005: That decision is overturned in appeals court.
  • July 2006: The NY State Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) rules that same-sex couples do not have the right to marry under the state's constitution.
  • 2007 to 2011: Various bills to legalize same-sex marriage are presented in the New York legislature. Many pass the Assembly but die in the Senate.
  • February 2008: An appellate court rules that Canadian same-sex marriages and other out-of-state marriages, are recognizable in New York on the grounds that other illegal marriages from out of state would also be recognized. Further, New York begins to permit same-sex couples to divorce in New York.
  • April 2009: Governor Paterson presents legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
  • May 10, 2011: The Assembly introduces and passes a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.
  • June 24, 2011: The Senate passes the same-sex marriage bill. The new law is set to take effect on July 24, 2011.
Divorce before Marriage

The path to same-sex marriage in New York may be the only one on which divorce precedes marriage. And it says a lot about the country's current values that we're fine with the dissolution of marriage but not its creation.

Think how different Henry the Eighth's story would have been if divorce had been hunky dory with the Catholic Church when he was king. But then, Henry the Eighth wasn't trying to marry other men (or divorce them, for that matter).

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