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The New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the legislature.
Plaintiff same-sex couples sued defendants, city license-issuing authorities, the New York Department of Health, and New York State, seeking a declaration that restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the New York Constitution's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses (N.Y. Const. art. I, §§ 6 and 11, respectively). The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. The Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision. The plaintiffs appealed.
Did the New York Constitution compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex?
The judgment of the intermediate appellate court was affirmed. As to the due process challenge, the legislature could have rationally decided that, for the welfare of children, it was more important to promote stability, and that same-sex relationships were more unstable than opposite-sex ones; and that it was better for children to grow up with both a mother and a father. Even assuming, as the couples asserted, that there was no conclusive scientific evidence to support the latter contention, the legislature could rationally proceed on the common-sense premise that children did best with a mother and father in the home. As to the equal protection challenge, the restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples was subject only to rational basis scrutiny, and the definition of marriage to exclude same-sex couples was not irrationally underinclusive or overinclusive.