By Michael Baggot

  BROOKLYN, NY, March 31, 2008 ( – Last Tuesday, in a decision that follows the trend towards greater state recognition of same-sex “marriages,” the New York Appellate Division invalidated a lower court decision stating that Brady Davis was not entitled to New York health benefits as the partner of the man he “married” in Canada. 

  In 2006, a lower court had rejected Duke Funderburke’s request to extend his New York Uniondale Union Free School District retirement plan to his partner, Davis, whom Funderburke had legally “married” in Ontario in 2004.

  In May 2007, the New York State Department of Civil Service decided to grant benefits to same-sex spouses under the New York State Health Insurance Program, thus allowing Davis and other same-sex spouses of public employees to receive health benefits.

  Because the state now afforded same-sex spouses the sort of coverage Funderburke and Davis appealed for, the appellate court considered their appeal moot.  In addition, the appellate court vacated the original 2006 lower court ruling that refused to recognize health benefit rights of same-sex spouses married in foreign countries.

“The decision from the appellate court wipes the lower court ruling off the books,” explained Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal.

  The appellate court explained that they vacated the earlier lower court ruling in order to prevent the original Funderburke decision from being “used as precedent in future cases.”

  Lambda Legal, a pro-homosexual organization that had supported Funderburke, trumpeted the Tuesday ruling on its website as “another NY win for marriage.”

“Now there is a consistent message across New York: out-of-state marriages for same-sex couples must be respected. This brings us one step closer to marriage equality in the Empire State,” the Lambda stated.

  The Tuesday decision follows two recent victories for New York advocates of same-sex “marriage.”

  In February, for the first time in New York judicial history, a judge allowed homosexuals to seek a divorce.  Supreme Court Justice Laura Drager ruled that the state should recognize the divorce of a lesbian couple “married” in Canada, since New York recognizes out-of-state legally contracted “marriages.”

  At the beginning of the same month, the Appellate Division ruled that homosexual “marriages” legally contracted in other countries must be recognized for the purpose of state employee benefits.  The decision forced the Monroe Community College in Rochester to extend benefits to an employee’s lesbian partner, whom she had “married” in Canada.

  See related coverage:

  New York Judge Permits Lesbian Divorce Despite State’s Non-Recognition of Same-sex “Marriage”

  New York Court Rules State Must Validate Canadian Homosexual “Marriages”

  New York Assembly Considers Legalizing Gay “Marriage”

  NY Governor Spitzer Pushes Abortion and Gay Marriage

  Read the full appellate court decision:

  Read the case against same-sex “marriages”: