Appellate Court Rules In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage Spousal Inheritance

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An appeals court ruled Thursday that the survivor of a same-sex marriage has the right to inherit as a spouse.

A gay rights legal group called the decision the first of its kind at an appellate level in New York.

It’s illegal for same-sex couples to get married in New York.

The appellate court decided, however, that J. Craig Leiby and H. Kenneth Rantfle’s 2008 marriage in Canada was legal. Therefore, Leiby is entitled to being recognized as a surviving spouse.

The two were married after being together as a couple for almost 25 years, court documents show.

Rantfle died in 2008 of lung cancer, leaving most his estate to Leiby.

Rantfle’s brother Richard contested the will, saying the marriage violated public polucy in New York.

The appellate court found that New York has a long tradition of recognizing out-of-state marriages. The only exceptions to that rule are marriages that violate “natural law.” Those violations include polygamy and incest.

“Same-sex marriage does not fall within either of the two exceptions,” the judges wrote in their decision.

Gay rights group Lamba Legal, which represented Leiby, hailed the ruling.

The decision “puts to rest the idea that out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples could be vulnerable to attack,” said Susan Sommer, senior counsel for Lambda.

Should gay marriage be legal in New York? What do you think of the decision? Sound off in our comments section.

  • DL

    I am having a hard time believing that a court in the states actually sided with gay folk. Americans are such a backward people. I guess there are a few folk there that actually use fairness as a guide. But this is not over yet, I am sure the knuckle draggers will rally against it. America has lost its place on the world stage as a leader in equality. I think they need to take the statement “and equality for all out of their constitution so that their constitution reflects their new found bigotry. To be fair there are probably a few who are not bigots, but we don’t hear from them so they might as well not exist. Too bad, America used to be a shining star.

    • Marcus

      I am American and ashamed at my country for continuing to allow bigotry against anyone. Marriage is a civil right as is being free from discrimination in jobs housing etc. It is ridiculous that in 2011 we are still debating this. Everyone deserves equal rights.

    • Ron H

      Please don’t count the US out yet. We may be late to the game, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be behind for long. We are on the cusp of full equal rights at the federal level after Obama’s declaration to no longer defend DOMA last week.

  • VY

    About time.
    Keep the government out of the bedrooms and love lives of concenting adults.

  • JB

    The decision is fair. You spend a lifetime with someone, build a life together and in the end you are stripped off your rights by a familly member of the deceased? Not fair. I think we are on the brink of equal rights and I applaud what they did in New York. Enough injustice already. Everybody knows it is wrong but either by prejudice or greed they keep doing it. Not anyomre! If you were straigth, would that happen?! No. So do not do to others what you do not wish to happen for you. Enough said.

  • Michael H.

    Just one step closer to equality for gay couples! Next stop, marriage in NY!

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