Parties to a Marriage
While historically New York law only allowed for marriages between a man and a woman, on July 24, 2011 the Marriage Equality Act became law. It amended the Domestic Relations Law to provide that a marriage is valid regardless of whether the parties are of the same sex or of different sexes. The effect of the Marriage Equality Act is to prohibit the denial of a marriage license for same sex unions. Further, it extends the legal benefits of being married to all married couples—same sex as well as different sex couples. If you are in a same sex relationship and you are experiencing legal challenges, contact an experienced New York family lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience, we have the knowledge and resources to help ensure that your legal rights are protected.Parties to a Marriage
According to NY Dom. Rel. Law §10a, same sex marriages are valid. The statute also makes it clear that the government must treat same sex couples the same as it treats different sex couples as far as benefits, privileges, protections, and responsibilities related to marriage. This means that when it comes to issuing marriage licenses, town and city clerks cannot deny a license to a couple because the couple is same-sex. While there have been high-profile instances in New York where town clerks have refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, they were violating the law. In addition, where a municipality has appointed marriage officers, the marriage officer cannot refuse to solemnize a marriage because the couple is same-sex.
While the Marriage Equality Act guarantees that the right to civil marriage extends to both different sex couples and same-sex couples, it does not require churches or religious leaders to perform religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.Requirements to get Married
The requirements for getting married in New York are the same for all couples. The couple must get a marriage license from a town or city clerk in New York. To get a marriage license you must present identification, complete an application, and pay a fee. If you were previously married, you may be required to show proof of your divorce.
The other requirement is that the couple must have the marriage solemnized by a person authorized to do so. The solemnization is the marriage ceremony. While such ceremonies often have a religious component and take place in churches or other houses of worship, that is not a required. The requirements for a solemnization are that it must be performed by someone who is authorized to do so, that both parties must be present, and that there is at least one witness must be present. You must wait at least 24 hours after you receive your marriage license before you can solemnize your marriage, and the solemnization must occur within 60 days of obtaining your license.Related Statutory Provisions
- Marriage a civil contract: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 10
- Religious exception: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 10-b
- Marriage a civil contract: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 11
- A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex.
- No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage, whether deriving from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex. When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, all gender-specific language or terms shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in all such sources of law.
If you have legal challenges related to marriage because your relationship is same sex, immediately contact an experienced New York family lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience we can handle matters related to marriage, divorce, and other related issues with skill and sensitivity. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Suffolk County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.