Friday, July 07, 2006

Gay Marriage and the Legislature

In yesterday's ruling permitting New York to bar gay couples from marrying, the State's highest court noted that its holding did not preclude the Legislature from extending "marriage or all or some of its benefits to same-sex couples."

But getting the State Legislature to act on this issue is highly unlikely, noted Chief Judge Judith Kaye in her dissent -- regardless of how a majority of New Yorkers may feel about the issue. This sentiment was echoed in a Times Union editorial today:

Leaving such a delicate matter in the hands of an institution that specializes in inaction is, in all likelihood, to deny gay couples the civil benefits of marriage for some time to come.

No one, it appears, understands that better than Chief Judge Judith Kaye. Her stern dissent sees the Legislature for what it actually is, rather than the institution to which the majority on the court can so comfortably defer. Bills that would end the discrimination imposed by such restrictive marriage laws, Judge Kaye notes, can't even make it out of committee in the state Assembly. The Senate, no doubt, would be more resistant still.

Indeed. The ability of a single leader to prevent New Yorkers from getting a full legislative hearing and vote on matters important to them has real consequences for us all.

Categories: General, Legislative Rules Reform

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