The New York Marriage Equality Act

The New York Marriage Equality Act

New York State was the fifth state to license same sex marriages with the passage of The NY Marriage Equality Act, effective beginning July 24, 2011. This law also allows same sex marriages that are entered into validly in other jurisdictions to be recognized in New York State. The 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made this right a federal one.

The NY Marriage Equality Act amended the New York Domestic Relations Law to grant same-sex couples the ability to enter into civil marriages. The statute says:

...no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex.

Marriage is Marriage for Everyone

All of the remaining qualifications, rights and responsibilities of spouses in a civil marriage in New York are the same for same-sex couples as for all marriages. If you are in a same sex relationship and are contemplating marriage and want to know the qualifications in detail or to discuss other matrimonial issues, contact the law office of experienced family law attorney Ingrid Gherman to set up a consultation at (212) 941-0767 or send the on-line inquiry. She has prepared a summary of NY marriage qualifications below:

Persons who wish to be married in the state must apply for a marriage license; both parties have to sign the license application in the presence of the clerk who will issue the license, which must then be delivered, within 60 days, to a clergy person or official who is authorized to solemnize the marriage in New York.

To qualify for a NY marriage license, you must be at least 18 years old, unmarried, and have proper documentation to prove age and identity, and provide information regarding any previous marriages. New York State does not have any residency requirements for marriages. The marriage ceremony may take place at least 24 hours after the time a marriage license was issued.

If a couple meets these legal qualifications, no application for a marriage license may be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same sex. The clerk does not have discretion to deny a license to otherwise qualified applicants.

New York Domestic Relations Law §11 authorizes members of the clergy and certain public to solemnize marriages. Same-sex couples can get married in a church as long as the person solemnizing the marriage is authorized to do so by law. Religious institutions may decide for themselves which marriages they will solemnize. Many churches welcome same-sex couples, while others do not. A clergyman or minister (as defined under the law) is not required to solemnize any marriage when acting in his or her capacity under Domestic Relations Law § 11.

If a person remains married to another person who is living, he/she cannot marry someone else until after he/she is divorced from that spouse.

Domestic Partnerships and Marriage in NYCDomestic Partnerships and Marriage in NYC

The New York City Administrative Code provides that if a person or his/her domestic partner gets married to each other or to another person, their domestic partnership is automatically terminated. If they registered as domestic partners elsewhere, the law of the state that issued the domestic partnership will likely contain provisions for the termination of the domestic partnership.

If the spouses entered into a civil union or domestic partnership in another state, the law of the state that issued their civil union or domestic partnership may contain limitations on a subsequent marriage. New York law permits a married couple to remarry each other. However, it is unclear whether NY State would authorize a marriage where the couple previously entered into another type of relationship sanctioned by another state, or whether the couple would be required to follow the laws of the state that sanctioned the domestic partnership or civil union.

It is recommended that persons disclose their prior civil union or domestic partnership on the application for the marriage license.

The New York City Administrative Code provides that if “you or your domestic partner get married to each other or to another person, your domestic partnership is automatically terminated.”

If you have questions about same gender marriage or domestic partnerships contact NY matrimonial attorney Ingrid Gherman at (212) 941-0767 or send an inquiry.