On Thursday morning, New York Gov. David A. Paterson announced a landmark executive order: All state agencies were required to recognize same sex marriages legally performed in other states and countries. The new directive would "involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses." Now, opposition is growing to the directive and conservatives and religious leaders say it ignores "traditional values" and establishes de facto gay marriages in the state.
The Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms said the Democrat "slapped the people in the face by circumventing their representatives," while New York's Catholic bishops said "just as the state cannot declare a man to be a 'mother' or a woman to be a 'father,' it can not declare a same-sex union to be a 'marriage."
The state's Republican leadership is also outraged.
State Senate Republican Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who opposes gay marriage, questioned the constitutionality of Paterson's action but said he hadn't yet seen the memo.
Bruno said the state's highest court has found gay marriage isn't legal within the state. The high court hasn't yet taken up the issue of whether gay marriages performed legally out of state are valid in New York.
"You have to understand that the court, the highest court here in New York state, made it very very clear that the only union that is legal in New York state, to perform a marriage ceremony, is between a man and a woman," Bruno said, citing a 2006 Court or Appeals ruling.
Paterson, a Roman Catholic, defends the directive and says failure to issue it would have exposed the state to liability from lawsuits claiming the Empire State deprived gay couples of civil rights enjoyed in other states.
"We have a time-held and time-tested tradition honoring those marital rights," Paterson said. "I am taking the same approach that this state always has with respect to out-of-state or marriages conducted in foreign governments being recognized here in the state of New York. I am following the law as it has always existed."
The California Supreme Court just paved the way for same sex marriage beginning in mid June.
Some Background ...
Paterson Promises Support for Same Sex Marriage [R20]
Paterson and Wife Admit Extramarital Affairs [R20]
Paterson Sworn In as NYs First Black Governor [R20]
Spitzer Implicated in Prostitution Ring [R20]
Spitzer Keeps Promise: Gay Marriage Bill Introduced [R20]
Spitzer Will Introduce Gay Marriage Bill [R20]
News: Same-Sex Marriage in New York [R20]
Court: No Gay Marriage in New York [R20]
News: Meet New York's Lt. Governor [R20]
Slim Majority in CA Want to Ban Gay Marriage [R20]
CA Supreme Court Overturns Marriage Ban [R20]
Schwarzengger: Gay Marriage Good for Economy [R20]
Clinton, Obama's Bland Statements on CA Marriage [R20]
Pope Reiterates Opposition to Same Sex Marriage [R20]
CA Poll: Majority Back Gay Marriage [R20]