[JURIST] New York Governor David Paterson [official profile] announced Thursday the introduction of legislation that would legalize [press release] same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] in the state. If passed, the legislation would amend the state's Domestic Relations Law [text] to give same-sex couples the opportunity to enter into civil marriages, which would give them the same rights under New York law as heterosexual married couples. In announcing the proposed legislation, Paterson said:
Marriage equality is about basic civil rights and personal freedom. … Too many individuals face legal discrimination every single day. Too many loving families do not receive the legal recognition they deserve. Anyone who has ever faced intolerance of any kind knows the solemn importance of protecting the rights of all people. That is why we stand together today to embrace civil rights for every New Yorker. We stand together today for marriage equality in the State of New York.
Paterson compared the struggle [NYT report] for same-sex marriage rights to the American civil rights movement, calling for an end to a regime of "systematic discrimination" against same-sex couples.
In February, a New York court ruled [JURIST report] that the surviving partner of a same-sex marriage performed in Canada was entitled to inherit the estate of the deceased spouse, basing the ruling in New York's recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state. In May 2008, Paterson issued a mandate [JURIST report], requiring that any and all out-of-state same-sex marriages be recognized as legal within the state of New York. This mandate supported an intermediate appellate court ruling in Martinez v. County of Monroe [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], holding that legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state are entitled to recognition in New York. In September of that year, the New York Supreme Court [official website] dismissed [decision and order; JURIST report] a challenge to Paterson's directive.