Landmark Decision in New York: Same-Sex Partner Should Receive Right to Inherit

Landmark Decision in New York: Same-Sex Partner Should Receive Right to Inherit

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An appeals court ruled Thursday that the survivor of a same-sex marriage has the right to inherit as a spouse. This landmark decision is the first of its kind in the Empire state because although it’s illegal for same-sex couples to marry in New York, it is legal in other states and countries.

We’ll explain.

The appellate court in New York has decided that J. Craig Leiby and H. Kenneth Rantfle’s 2008 marriage in Canada was legal. Therefore, Leiby is entitled to being recognized as a surviving spouse regardless of New York law. The two were married after being together as a couple for almost 25 years, court documents show.

Rantfle died in 2008 of lung cancer, leaving most his estate to Leiby. Rantfle’s brother Richard contested the will, saying the marriage violated public policy in New York.

The appellate court found that New York has a long tradition of recognizing out-of-state marriages. The only exceptions to that rule are marriages that violate “natural law.” Those violations include polygamy and incest.

Last we checked, same-sex marriages were with human beings, were two-by-two, and were with other consenting adults outside of blood family. Check!

“Same-sex marriage does not fall within either of the two exceptions,” the judges wrote in their decision.

Gay rights group Lamba Legal, which represented Leiby, hailed the ruling, saying, the decision “puts to rest the idea that out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples could be vulnerable to attack.”

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