Gay-marriage advocates celebrated a major victory after a New York State appellate court ruled that a same-sex marriage in Canada must be recognized within the state.
The decision was reached on Feb. 8. by a five-judge panel in the case of Martinez v. the County of Monroe, in which Monroe Community College employee Patricia Martinez appealed a case filed in 2006.
Martinez, who was married in Canada in 2004, sued MCC after she was denied health benefits for her partner. The case had been thrown out by a lower-court judge on the grounds that, "the state defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman."
"It's a great thing for families [and] it's a great thing for couples who are trying to protect themselves financially and legally," Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley member Christopher Hinesley told Rochester TV station WHEC.
The ruling builds on a similar one from July that stated same-sex marriages that took place in Massachusetts before July 2006 are considered valid in New York because the state had not explicitly banned same-sex marriage until then.
Although Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003, former Gov. Mitt Romney directed municipal courts to deny licenses to out-of-state couples. Romney cited a 1913 law that bars couples from marrying if their home state would prohibit it. California attempted to follow suit in the summer of 2005 by invalidating hundreds of marriages performed in San Francisco.
Some at Geneseo are in favor of the new ruling.
"Finally - it's about time that people recognize that same-sex couples deserve the same rights and benefits of heterosexual couples," said freshman Grace Savoy-Burke. "Just because it's two men or two women doesn't mean it's not really love."
Not everyone was happy about the ruling, however.
"Personally I don't like it; I think it's wrong," said freshman Leo Fisher. "But the government shouldn't do anything about it. Marriage is a religious rite, and when the government gets involved it breaks the First Amendment."
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in 2007; the legislation passed in the Assembly, but died in the Senate.