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Same-Sex Marriage Recognized by Manhattan Surrogate

While New York still prohibits same-sex couples from getting married in state, the law continues to progress in the right direction.

In H. Kenneth Ranftle v. Craig Leiby, a Manhattan surrogate ruled last week that a man was entitled to inherit his deceased partner’s entire estate, and that the decedent’s three siblings were not entitled to notification of the probate proceedings under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act §1403(1)(a).

H. Kenneth Ranftle died just five months after marrying his same-sex partner in Quebec in mid-2008; his will clearly left his estate to his partner, but Ranftle’s siblings weren’t going down without a fight.

The Appellate Division, 4th Department, has already ruled that state agencies should recognize marriages formalized in Canada, Massachusetts and other states in which gay marriage is legal. Among other things, this means that New York courts are able to issue divorces to same-sex couples. Despite the New York legislature’s continued refusal to permit same-sex couples from solemnizing their marriages in New York, the attorney who represented Ranftle’s estate said that this most recent ruling could “start the ball rolling toward establishing statewide precedent.”

In addition, Governor Paterson has also directed state agencies to recognize such marriages.

One step at a time in New York.

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