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New York judge says governor can order out-of-state ‘gay marriages’ recognized

NEW YORK (BP)–A New York State judge dismissed a lawsuit Sept. 2 against Gov. David A. Paterson, ruling that he acted within his power when he ordered state agencies to recognize “gay marriages” from outside the state.

Although the decision by Justice Lucy Billings could be appealed, it nevertheless is a victory for “gay marriage” supporters nationwide. If Paterson’s May directive stands, it will mean that the nation’s first (California) and third most populous states will recognize “gay marriages” in one form or another. Unlike California, New York homosexual couples cannot get “married” within the state, but they are only a short drive from Massachusetts or Canada — both of which border New York — where “gay marriage” is legal and they can obtain a license.

The lawsuit against Paterson, a Democrat, was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-family group, on behalf of 16 state taxpayers, including two state senators and three state assemblymen. The suit stated that the governor “does not have authority to declare which unions will be recognized as valid marriages in New York” and that such authority belongs to the legislature.

But Billings disagreed, saying “gay marriage” is not specifically banned in New York. She ruled that Paterson’s directive was a “permissible, if not mandated, step toward the objective of equality for a group for whom legal as well as practical barriers to equality persist.”

The Alliance Defense Fund and other pro-family groups noted that the legislature has considered the legalization of “gay marriage” and thus far rejected it. The Democratic-controlled New York Assembly last year passed a bill that would legalize such relationships, although it has yet to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Opponents of “gay marriage” also say the controversy over Paterson’s directive underscores the need for states clearly to define the definition of marriage in state law. This fall three states — Arizona, California and Florida — will consider constitutional amendments that would protect the natural definition of marriage, thus banning “gay marriage.”

Jim Campbell, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, criticized Billings’ logic.

“This decision enshrines the radical notion that the State of New York should forfeit its autonomy to define marriage for itself,” he said, according to The New York Times.
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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