The state of New York has announced that it will recognize homosexual marriages legally performed in other states and countries.
A memo from legal counsel David Nocenti to Governor David Paterson says that state agencies, including those governing insurance and health care, must immediately recognize same-sex marriages legally contracted outside of New York, the governor’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
The memo is based upon a February 1 decision from judges on the New York Appellate Division which said there was no legal impediment to recognizing the unions. The appellate judges ruled that the state legislature may prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriages contracted abroad, but they said until the legislature acts, such marriages are “entitled to recognition” in the state.
In response to this decision, Gov. Patterson issued a directive that asks agencies to recognize same sex marriages just as they would any other marriage. The directive does not legalize homosexual marriage, but Governor Paterson called the measure “a strong step toward marriage equality right here in our state,” according to the Associated Press.
Homosexual marriage is not legal in New York. The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, has said it can only be legalized by the legislature.
Massachusetts is currently the only U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage. Its residency requirements would bar New Yorkers from marrying there. California will begin performing same-sex marriages on June 17, barring further action from its state Supreme Court.