Canadian Same-Sex Marriages Not Valid in New York

It took only a week for the  reverberations to begin  from last week’s affirmance by the Court of Appeals of New York’s ban on same sex marriages. Last week, in the case Funderburke v. New York State Department of Civil Service, a Nassau County judge granted the State summary judgment, dismissing the case of a former employee, who sought health benefits for his same-sex partner.

Mr. Funderburke had been with his partner since 1965 and, in 2004, married him, in Canada, which recognizes same-sex marriages.  Fundeburke requested spousal benefits for  his partnet but the school district, which employed Funderburke, denied his request because it declined to recognize same sex marriages.  

In dismissing the case, the Judge stated:

In deciding this case, this Court is constrained to follow the recent holding of the Court of Appeals in Hernandez v. Robles  . . . While the Court of Appeals in that case did not directly address the issue of whether New York should recognize same sex marriages performed in foreign jurisdictions, the Court’s ruling is instructive on the definition of marriage. The Court of Appeals held that there are rational grounds for limiting the definition of marriage to opposite sex couples and that any expansion of the traditional definition of marriage should come from the New York State Legislature.

The Court then concluded that Funderburke  though married in Canadian was not married under New York law. Therefore, Funderburke’s partner was not, the Court said, eligible to spousal health benefits.

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