May 13, 2009


Governor's Program Bill Brings Equality for all New Yorkers One Step Closer to Reality

Noting that equal legal rights for same-sex couples is a legislative priority of the New York State Bar Association, State Bar President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) today praised members of the State Assembly for passing legislation that would extend a host of legal rights and responsibilities associated with marriage to all New Yorkers, regardless of their sexual orientation.  The legislation, A.7732 (O'Donnell)/S.4401 (Duane) was recently introduced as a Governor's Program bill in the State Legislature.

"Same-sex couples lack basic legal protections afforded heterosexual married couples," said Leber.  "Whether relating to decisions about health care choices, hospital visitation rights or child custody issues, we must address inequities in the laws that not only deprive same-sex couples of these rights, but that prevent them from participating fully in society.  I want to commend Governor Paterson and members of the Assembly for their extraordinary leadership in advancing equality for all New Yorkers, and I am hopeful that this important piece of legislation will become law during this legislative session."  

Under current state law, there are significant differences in the legal treatment of marital relationships and committed same-sex relationships in a wide range of matters such as property rights, financial support, health care, responsibilities to children, and access to the courts, among other issues.  In 2005, the State Bar Association adopted a resolution calling for legislation that would provide same-sex couples with the same comprehensive set of rights and responsibilities that are available to opposite-sex couples either through domestic partnerships, civil unions, or an amendment to the statutory definition of marriage.  The resolution was based on a report issued by its Special Committee to Review Issues Affecting Same-Sex Couples.


The 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation.  Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.