- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

A Manhattan judge has found a constitutional right to “marry” for homosexual couples, in stark contrast to three upstate judges who found no such right.

The conflicting decisions virtually guarantee that the issue will reach the state’s highest court, although as of late yesterday, attorneys for the city declined to talk about their next step.

Homosexual rights advocates were elated by the ruling of New York State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, who was elected to the bench in 2002.

“It was only less than 40 years ago that the U.S. Supreme Court held that anti-miscegenation statutes, adopted to prevent marriages between persons solely on the basis of racial classification, violate the Constitution because they infringed on the freedom to marry a person of one’s choice,” Judge Ling-Cohan wrote of the lawsuit filed by Daniel Hernandez and his partner, Nevin Cohen, and four other homosexual couples who were denied marriage licenses by the city.

“Similarly, this court must so hold in the context of same-sex marriages,” she wrote, ordering the city to stop denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples — but staying her order for 30 days.

Michael A. Cardozo, corporation counsel in the New York City Law Department, said, “We are reviewing the decision thoroughly and considering our options.”

Lambda Legal attorney Susan Sommer, who represented the plaintiffs, hailed the ruling as “historic.”

“Same-sex couples need the protections and security marriage provides, and this ruling says they’re entitled to get them the same way straight couples do,” she said.

“We are disappointed in today’s decision,” said Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver, whose Orlando, Fla., legal group is active in many homosexual rights “marriage” lawsuits.

“Three other Supreme Court judges in New York have independently reviewed the laws and concluded, as they should, that the marriage laws are constitutional,” he said, referring to a case involving 13 same-sex couples in Albany, N.Y.; another one involving 10 couples in Rockland County; and a decision issued Feb. 3, which reinstated 24 misdemeanor counts against New Paltz, N.Y., Mayor Jason West for “marrying” same-sex couples last year.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and supporter of a federal marriage amendment, said the ruling was “a vivid reminder that opponents of traditional marriage have not given up their effort to overturn the will of the people.”

The New York cases are among several “freedom to marry” cases now in the courts. Lower court judges have ruled for homosexual plaintiffs in Washington state and against them in Indiana and New Jersey. Rulings have yet to be issued in cases in California, Connecticut and Maryland.

Same-sex “marriage” currently is legal only in Massachusetts.

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