New York Court Upholds Traditional Marriage

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - A second New York court has upheld marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Albany County Justice Joseph Teresi on Tuesday rejected arguments by thirteen same-sex couples who said state laws against same-sex marriage violated their due process, equal protection and free speech guarantees.

Those thirteen couples include New York State Representative Daniel J. O'Donnell, the brother of Rosie O'Donnell.

Just two months ago, Rockland County Supreme Court Justice Weiner also upheld the constitutionality of New York's marriage laws.

"This is a great victory for traditional marriage," said Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, which filed a brief urging the court to uphold New York laws banning same-sex marriage.

"Within a few months, two New York courts have upheld the state's marriage laws," Staver continued. "Marriage between one man and one woman is common sense. The state has an obvious interest in preserving traditional marriage. The state clearly has the right to prefer the best family arrangement for children and society."

Justice Teresi ruled that state laws barring same-sex marriage do not discriminate on the basis of gender because men and women are treated alike under the marriage laws; they both are permitted to marry someone of the opposite gender.

The court also found that same-sex couples do not have a fundamental right to marry under the New York or United States Constitutions. And the court rejected the couples' claims that barring same-sex marriage violates their right to free expression.

The Liberty Counsel is directly involved in defending marriage in over thirty cases throughout the country.

'Not surprising'

The American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the case on behalf of the 13 couples, said it will appeal Tuesday's decision.

"It's not terribly surprising that a lower court judge would rule this way," said James Esseks, litigation director for the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.

"Basically, the judge said that the critical questions of whether all people have a fundamental right to marry, or whether the government is justified in excluding same-sex couples from marriage, should be decided by a higher court." Esseks said.

"It's hard not to be disappointed for the many couples who need to be able to protect their families, but we've known all along that this case was headed for the New York appeals courts," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

"We believe that once the appeals courts are given the opportunity to see how same-sex couples are harmed when they are denied access to the protections of marriage, they will agree that the state can no longer discriminate in this way."

The ACLU said it plans to appeal Tuesday's ruling.

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