BILL TEXT:
S4401
 
                STATE OF NEW YORK
        ________________________________________________________________________
 
                                          4401
 
                               2009-2010 Regular Sessions
 
                    IN SENATE
 
                                     April 22, 2009
                                       ___________
 
        Introduced  by  Sens.  DUANE, ADAMS, BRESLIN, DILAN, ESPADA, C. JOHNSON,
          KLEIN, KRUEGER,  MONTGOMERY,  OPPENHEIMER,  PARKER,  PERKINS,  SAVINO,
          SCHNEIDERMAN,  SERRANO,  SQUADRON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS, THOMPSON
          -- (at request of the Governor) -- read twice and ordered printed, and
          when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary
 
        AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to  the  ability
          to marry
 
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
 
     1    Section 1. Legislative intent. Marriage is a fundamental human  right.
     2  Same-sex  couples  and  their  children  should  have the same access as
     3  others to the protections, responsibilities,  rights,  obligations,  and
     4  benefits  of  civil  marriage.  Stable family relationships help build a
     5  stronger society. For the welfare of the community and  in  fairness  to
     6  all  New Yorkers, this act formally recognizes otherwise-valid marriages
     7  without regard to whether the parties are of the same or different sex.
     8    It is the intent of the legislature that the marriages of same-sex and
     9  different-sex couples be treated equally in all respects under the  law.
    10  The  omission  from this act of changes to other provisions of law shall
    11  not  be  construed  as  a  legislative  intent  to  preserve  any  legal
    12  distinction  between  same-sex  couples  and  different-sex couples with
    13  respect to marriage. The legislature intends that all provisions of  law
    14  which  utilize  gender-specific  terms  in reference to the parties to a
    15  marriage, or which in any other way may be inconsistent with  this  act,
    16  be  construed  in  a  gender-neutral  manner  or in any way necessary to
    17  effectuate the intent of this act.
    18    § 2. The domestic relations law is amended by  adding  a  new  section
    19  10-a to read as follows:
    20    § 10-a. Sex of parties. 1. A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be
    21  valid  regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same
    22  or different sex.
 
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                                   LBD12040-01-9

        S. 4401                             2
 
     1    2. No government treatment or legal status,  effect,  right,  benefit,
     2  privilege,  protection  or  responsibility relating to marriage, whether
     3  deriving from statute, administrative  or  court  rule,  public  policy,
     4  common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties
     5  to  the  marriage  being  or  having  been of the same sex rather than a
     6  different sex. When necessary to implement the rights  and  responsibil-
     7  ities  of  spouses  under the law, all gender-specific language or terms
     8  shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in  all  such  sources  of
     9  law.
    10    §  3.  Section 13 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter
    11  720 of the laws of 1957, is amended to read as follows:
    12    § 13.   Marriage licenses.   It shall be  necessary  for  all  persons
    13  intended  to  be  married in New York state to obtain a marriage license
    14  from a town or city clerk in New York state and to deliver said license,
    15  within sixty days, to the clergyman or magistrate who  is  to  officiate
    16  before  the  marriage  ceremony may be performed.  In case of a marriage
    17  contracted pursuant to subdivision four of section eleven of this  chap-
    18  ter, such license shall be delivered to the judge of the court of record
    19  before  whom  the acknowledgment is to be taken.  If either party to the
    20  marriage resides upon an island located not less than twenty-five  miles
    21  from the office or residence of the town clerk of the town of which such
    22  island  is a part, and if such office or residence is not on such island
    23  such license may be obtained from any justice of the peace  residing  on
    24  such  island, and such justice, in respect to powers and duties relating
    25  to marriage licenses, shall be subject to the provisions of this article
    26  governing town clerks  and  shall  file  all  statements  or  affidavits
    27  received  by  him while acting under the provisions of this section with
    28  the town clerk of such town. No application for a marriage license shall
    29  be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or  a  differ-
    30  ent, sex.
    31    §  4.  Subdivision  1  of section 11 of the domestic relations law, as
    32  amended by chapter 319 of the laws  of  1959,  is  amended  to  read  as
    33  follows:
    34    1.  A  clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader,
    35  or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture  in  the
    36  city  of New York, having its principal office in the borough of Manhat-
    37  tan, or by the leader of  The  Brooklyn  Society  for  Ethical  Culture,
    38  having  its  principal  office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of
    39  New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society,  having  its  principal
    40  office  in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long
    41  Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of  the  River-
    42  dale-Yonkers  Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx coun-
    43  ty, or by the leader of any other  Ethical  Culture  Society  affiliated
    44  with the American Ethical Union; provided that no clergyman, minister or
    45  Society  for  Ethical  Culture leader shall be required to solemnize any
    46  marriage when acting in his or her capacity under this subdivision.
    47    § 5. This act shall take effect immediately.

SPONSORS MEMO:
NEW YORK STATE SENATE
INTRODUCER'S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT
submitted in accordance with Senate Rule VI. Sec 1
RETRIEVE BILL
 
BILL NUMBER: S4401
 
SPONSOR: DUANE               
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to the ability to marry   PURPOSE: This bill provides same-sex couples the same opportunity to enter into civil marriages as opposite-sex couples. The bill also provides that no member of the clergy may be compelled to perform any marriage ceremony.   SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill sets forth legislative intent. Section 2 of the bill adds a new Section 10-a to the Domestic Relations Law (DRL) providing that: (1) a marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex; (2) 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 or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex; and (3) all relevant gender-specific language set forth in' or referenced by New York law shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner. Section 3 of the bill amends DRL § 13 to provide that no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex. Section 4 of the bill amends DRL § 11(1) to make clear that no member of the clergy acting in such capacity may be required to perform any marriage. Section 5 of the bill sets forth the effective date.   EXISTING LAW: Although the Domestic Relations Law contains no specific prohibition against, or allowance for, marriages between individuals of the same sex, the New York Court of Appeals has held that New York statutory law limits marriage within New York State to opposite-sex couples.   SEE HERNANDEZ V. ROBLES, 7 N.Y.3d 338 (2005).   STATEMENT IN SUPPORT: The "freedom to marry" is, in the words of the United States Supreme Court, "one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free   people."1 In New York, however, certain couples who seek to exercise this freedom, and partake of its rights and responsibilities by mutual consent, may not do so solely because they are of the same sex. The bar against same-sex marriages exists regard- less of how long the individuals have lived together, or whether they are raising children through legally recognized joint custody arrange- ments. This bill removes the barriers in New York law that deprive indi- viduals of the equal right to marry the person of their choice, by granting the same legal recognition to all civil marriages regardless of whether those who enter into them are of the same, or of a different, sex. Partners unable to enter into a civil marriage - and their children - lack basic legal protections taken for granted by married couples. In such areas as property ownership, inheritance, health care, hospital visitation, taxation, insurance coverage, child custody, pension bene- fits and testimonial privileges, married couples receive important safe- guards against the loss or injury of a spouse, and crucial assurances against legal intrusion into their marital privacy. As important, unions lacking the State's recognition are denoted, by force of law, as somehow not equal to other comparable relationships. Civil marriage is the means by which the State defines a couple's place in society. Those who are excluded from its rubric are told by the institutions of the State, in essence; that their solemn commitment to one another has no legal weight. Just as the right to marry confers important benefits on individuals, the institution of marriage produces incalculable benefits for society, by fostering stable familial relationships. Same-sex couples who wish to marry are not simply looking to obtain additional rights, they are seek- ing out substantial responsibilities as well: to undertake significant and binding obligations to one another, and to lives of "shared intimacy and mutual financial and emotional support."2 Granting legal recognition to these relationships can only strengthen New York's families, by extending the ability to participate in this crucial social institution to all New Yorkers. The history of this country for more than two centuries has been the story of once excluded individuals and groups gaining gradual access to equal rights under law. New York State, in particular, has played a proud and honorable part in that history, from hosting the foundational women's rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, to breaking base- ball's color barrier, to witnessing the seminal event of the modem gay rights movement in New York City four decades ago. New York legislators and other political leaders, of both parties and of all viewpoints, have had an important role in this process, and in the gradual extension of equal treatment to gays and lesbians in particular. In 1983, Governor Mario Cuomo first banned discrimination in state employment by Executive Order. In 2002, Governor Pataki extended the same principle to the private sector by signing into law the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimi- nation Act. That year, the State gave its first legal recognition to same-sex relationships when the Legislature unanimously passed - and the Governor signed - a bill extending workers' compensation benefits to all those who lost a partner on 9/11. Yet the institution of marriage remains closed to loving same-sex couples who seek only to be able to show their mutual commitment as other individuals do. Passage of this bill would remedy that flaw, and represent yet another important and historic step in the process by which all citizens of New York State are granted full and equal rights. Individuals on both sides of the questions raised by this bill hold deep-seated views that arise from a host of ethical and religious considerations. To ensure that the bill does not improperly intrude into matters of conscience or religious belief, the bill affirms that no member of the clergy can be compelled to solemnize any marriage. In short, this bill grants equal access to the government-created legal institution of civil marriage, while leaving the religious institution of marriage to its own separate, and fully autonomous, sphere.   BUDGET IMPLICATIONS: The bill will require additional state expenditures for " spousal bene- fits for those partners of state employees who are not eligible for such benefits under current law, and who are married under this legislation. At the same time, however, allowing same-sex marriage would have numer- ous positive fiscal impacts. A 2007 report by the New York City Comp- troller detailed numerous sources of added revenue that would result from enacting marriage equality in New York State, including tax revenue from additional weddings, higher intake of marital licensing fees and reduction of means-tested benefit payments as a result of aggregated marital income. Moreover, any negative budgetary impact from added bene- fit payments will be limited, as many same-sex couples already enjoy such benefits through a variety of administrative schemes, or as a result of out-of-state marriages.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill takes effect immediately. 1 Loving v. Virginia 388 U.S. (1967). 2 Hernandez v. Robles, 7 N.Y. 3d 338 (2005) (Kaye, C.J., dissenting).