ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – The New York Court of Appeals expanded the marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples in New York by refusing to overturn a ruling that recognized the valid out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.
The New York Civil Liberties Union and attorney Jeffrey Wicks brought the case on behalf of Patricia Martinez, an employee of Monroe Community College in Rochester who sought health-care benefits for her Canadian wife. The couple wed in Canada in 2004.
In February of this year, an appellate court unanimously affirmed the couple’s marriage on the basis that it was valid in Canada, and New York must recognize valid marriages.
The state high court let stand the appellate court’s decision.
Arthur Eisenberg, NYCLU’s legal director, said the ruling falls in line with New York law and the practices of state and local entities, which generally recognize valid marriages in other states or countries.
The Department of Civil Service, the state comptroller and several counties, towns and cities “have been recognizing gay and lesbian marriages for years,” the NYCLU said in a press release.
“This is a victory for families, and it’s a victory for human rights,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU.