New York has no same-sex marriage or civil unions law of its own, but recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that the New York Constitution does not protect same-sex marriage. Legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in New York is supported by the governor, the New York State Assembly, and 53 percent of the population; it passed the assembly in May 2009, but has not yet appeared before the State Senate.
In July 2006, the New York State Court of Appeals ruled by a 4-2 margin that same-sex couples do not have the right to marry under the Constitution of New York. Because the New York State Court of Appeals is the highest judicial authority in New York, this effectively ended any short-term judicial opportunity to legalize same-sex marriage.
In April 2007, then-governor Eliot Spitzer fulfilled a campaign promise by unveiling legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The bill easily passed the New York State Assembly, but was blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate. In May 2009, similar legislation passed the Assembly and is now awaiting the Senate, which now has a very slim Democratic majority.
In May 2008, Governor David Paterson issued an executive order directing New York state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states on equal terms with heterosexual marriages.
The Future of Same-Sex Marriage in New York:
Given the popularity of same-sex marriage in New York, legislation permitting it seems inevitable. The only obstacle is the New York State Senate, which is closely divided on party lines (and includes several conservative Democrats and socially liberal Republicans). Senate leaders have indicated that they will allow a vote if, and only if, they are confident that there are enough votes to pass the bill.