The New York Court of Appeals -- the state's highest court -- declared today in a 4-2 decision that marriage discrimination is legal and then noted that any end to discriminatory laws has to come from the state legislature.
The practical result of this ruling is that the families and, thus, the children of lesbian and gay New Yorkers are cast as 2nd-class citizens. They have fewer legal protections and less financial security than the children of heterosexual families.
The Court of Appeals, in a 4-2 decision, said New York's marriage law is constitutional and clearly limits marriage to between a man and a woman.AP also reports:
Any change in the law would have to come from the state Legislature, Judge Robert Smith said.
"It's a sad day for New York families," said plaintiff Kathy Burke of Schenectady, who is raising an 11-year-old son with her partner, Tonja Alvis. My family deserves the same protections as my next door neighbors."The end result of this decision is that our children will suffer. See here for what the American Academy of Pediatrics says about the impact on children of bans on same-sex marriage.
This decision -- and justices' deferral to the legislature on an issue of civil rights, of all things -- also make me wonder if the religious right's constant drumbeat about activist judges has scored a victory.
Perhaps, I'm wrong. You can read the opinion and dissents here (see Jason Seymour v. Julie Holcomb et al) and see for yourself. No one except the four justices on the winning side can know whether their courage failed them. Were they too afraid to stand up for fairness under the law?