David Paterson has unilaterally declared New York a gay-marriage-friendly state:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gay rights advocates had reason to celebrate on both coasts Thursday, with New York set to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and California preparing to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on June 17.
Hours after California issued a directive Wednesday authorizing that date, word came that New York Gov. David Paterson instructed state agencies — including those governing insurance and health care — to immediately change policies and regulations to recognize gay marriages.
For years, gay rights advocates have sought recognition for same-sex marriages so couples could share family health care plans, receive tax breaks by filing jointly, enjoy stronger adoption rights and inherit property.
Many or all of those rights would now appear to be available to New Yorkers who legally wed same-sex partners in other states and countries, according to the memo sent earlier this month from the governor’s counsel. Agencies have until June 30 to report back to the counsel on how, specifically, the directive will change existing state benefits and services for gay couples.
“This is a milestone in the fight for fairness in New York,” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “Couples in New York who have never known true security for their families will be officially entitled to treatment by our state government that respects their rights.”