Marriage Equality USA

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State of New York
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Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2011. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)


  • Marriage Equality New York (MENY) was officially founded in NYC in February 1998. MENY, Marriage Equality California (MECA) and Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) were all born of ideas a group of activists conceived in 1996. Connie Ress, of New York, was MEUSA's first Executive Director. See Our History.
  • In February 2004, during the Winter of Love, Mayor Jason West of New Paltz, in the Hudson Valley, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The mayor was arrested in early March 2004 for continuing to issue the licenses. Today New Paltz celebrates the anniversary of their role in the 2004 Winter of Love.
  • In 2009, U.S. Representative Jerome Nadler (D-NY) first introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). He has introduced this piece of national legislation in each Congress since that time, with the current version of the RFMA having been introduced in July 2013. The RFMA would invalidate DOMA as a whole and federally establish marriage equality through-out the country.
  • In 2011 MENY and MEUSA consolidated.
  • The historic DOMA case, Windsor v. United States, originated in New York with plaintiff Edie Windsor (MEUSA member), in 2012.

Legislation - Pending


Legislation - Enacted

Marriage Equality Act

Author/Sponsor: Rep. Daniel O’Donnell, Sen. Thomas Duane
Date Introduced: 14 June 2011
Date Enacted: 24 June 2011


  • The New York state law allowing for gender-neutral marriages was passed by the state Assembly by a vote of 80-63, and the state Senate by a vote of 36-26.

Lawsuits - Pending


Lawsuits - Resolved

Windsor v. United States

Case #: 12-307
Date Filed: 11 September 2012
Ruling Date: 26 June 2013


  • Edith Windsor filed a lawsuit against the United States government challenging the governments assertion that she pay $363,053 in taxes on the estate left to her by her late wife Thea Spyer – taxes not required of heterosexual couples. The case ended up before the United States Supreme Court, which found in her favor (5-4 decision) and ruled that the federal definition of marriage as only between a man and women was unconstitutional, thereby striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Hernandez v. Robles; Shields v. Madigan; Samuels v. New York State Department of Health (Consolidated)

Case #: 855 N.E.2d 1
Date Filed: March 2004
Ruling Date: 4 February 2005


  • Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in New York challenging the denial of marriage licenses as a violation of the New York Constitution. After initially winning at the trial court level, the state Court of Appeals reversed that decision and upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriage (2006).
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom v. New York

Case #: 19 N.Y.3d 814 (2012)
Date Filed: 25 July 2011
Ruling Date: 23 October 2012


  • The Court of Appeals declined to hear a challenge to the state’s Marriage Equality Act, thereby upholding the legislation granting marriage equality to same-sex couples.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending


Ballot Initiatives - Passed



  • A March 2014 Roanoke/ Rutgers-Eagleton/ Siena college study found that 65% of New York residents favored gay marriage, while 32% opposed. 3% were unsure. Poll details.
  • A December 2013 Public Religion Research Institute survey found that 60% of New York residents support same-sex marriage, while 32% opposed, and 9% didn't know or refused to answer. Poll details.