State Laws and Legislation

New York Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law

Licenses marriages for same-sex couples? Yes.
As of July 24, 2011, same-sex couples may obtain marriage licenses in New York. The New York State Legislature passed the “Marriage Equality Act” of 2011 on June 24, 2011 and Governor Cuomo immediately signed the bill into law.

Honors marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions? Yes.
In February 2008, an intermediate appellate court ruled that same-sex couples who marry outside New York are entitled to full recognition of their marriages in New York. In May 2008, the Court of Appeals, New York’s high court, unanimously ruled not to review the decision in Martinez v. County of Monroe, letting the appellate court’s ruling stand.

On May 14, 2008, Governor Paterson’s legal counsel directed all state agencies to revise rules and regulations in order to provide equal rights, benefits, and responsibilities to same-sex couples who marry in other jurisdictions, pursuant to the court’s decision in Martinez.


For a period in 2004, the mayor of New Paltz solemnized some marriages between same-sex couples. No licenses were issued and the attorney general ordered the marriages to stop until the matter could be resolved in the courts. In July 2006, the state’s highest court ruled in Hernandez v. Robles that it was not a violation of the state constitution to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Prior to 2011, for same-sex couples who did not enter into marriage outside New York, there was no statewide relationship recognition; New York did not have a statewide registry for same-sex couples, although the legislature extended a series of statutory benefits to domestic partners such as the right to visit one another in the hospital and have priority in disposing of each other remains (funeral arrangements).

The New York Assembly passed a marriage equality bill five times between June 2007 and June 2011, before the Senate successfully passed the “Marriage Equality Act” of 2011.  

Citations: N.Y. [PUB. HEALTH] LAW §2805-q; N.Y. [PUB. HEALTH] LAW §4201; Hernandez v. Robles, 821 NYS2d 770 (N.Y. 2006); Martinez v. County of Monroe, 850 NYS2d 740 (4th Dept. 2008).

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Updated: Mon, July 11, 2011 - 11:00:55