New York state passed the Marriage Equality Act this past week. This is a historic moment for New York state, as New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont, plus Washington D.C., in marriage equality for the sexes.
According to the New York Law Journal, quoting Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Marriage Equality Act amends the Domestic Relations Law to state:
• A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex
• No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being the same sex or a different sex
• All relevant gender-specific language set forth in or referenced by New York law shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner
• No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex.
Exempt from this new law is protection for religious entities. Specifically as explained by the New York Law Journal governor Cuomo noted the Act states that no religious entity, benevolent organization or not-for-profit corporation that is operated, supervised or controlled by a religious entity, or their employees can be required to perform marriage ceremonies or provide their facilities for marriage ceremonies, consistent with their religious principles. In addition, religious entities will not be subject to any legal action for refusing marriage ceremonies.
This is a remarkable accomplishment for the state of New York and is bound to have a strong influence on the judicial system in the years to come.