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Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York Enacts Same-Sex Marriage Laws on June 24, 2011

Laws of 2001, Ch 95 enacted the Marriage Equality Act, effective July 24, 2011. It amended New York's Domestic Relations Law to provide that:

•A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex
•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 the same sex or a different sex
•No application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex.

Laws of 2011, Ch 96, effective July 24, 2011, was passed at the same time as the Marriage Equality ACt and amended the Marriage Equality Act to include protections for religious organizations. The Act states that no religious entity, benevolent organization or not-for-profit corporation that is operated, supervised or controlled by a religious entity, or their employees can be required to perform marriage ceremonies or provide their facilities for marriage ceremonies, consistent with their religious principles. In addition, religious entities will not be subject to any legal action for refusing marriage ceremonies. The Act will grant 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. Additionally, the Act was amended to include a clause that states that if any part is deemed invalid through the judicial process and after all appeals in the courts, the entire Act would be considered invalid.