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NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION SEEKS REVERSAL OF LOWER COURT DECISIONS UPHOLDING DENIAL OF CIVIL MARRIAGE RIGHTS FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES: AMICUS BRIEFS FILED WITH APPELLATE DIVISIONS,
SECOND AND THIRD DEPARTMENTS
NEW YORK – MAY 24, 2005 – The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) has filed amicus briefs with the Appellate Divisions, Second and Third Departments, requesting that the courts reverse lower-court decisions upholding the prohibition of civil marriage between same-sex couples. Joining NYCLA in the two briefs is the Washington, DC-based National Black Justice Coalition, the nation’s largest Black gay civil rights organization.
Since its founding in 1908, NYCLA has spearheaded the fight for equality in the profession and under local, state and federal law. In December 2003, the Association adopted a resolution supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples. According to Ivan J. Dominguez, who led the preparation of the briefs and serves as chair of the NYCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee and Vice Chair of the Association’s Same-Sex Marriage Task Force, “It is most gratifying that NYCLA continues to take the lead in the struggle for full equal rights for LGBT New Yorkers.”
Citing historic data from as far back as 1664, when the first of several anti-miscegenation laws was enacted in the American colonies, to 1967, when the United States Supreme Court struck down that form of discrimination as an unconstitutional interference with an individual’s fundamental right to marry, the brief draws parallels with these earlier discriminatory practices and New York State’s arguments and the lower courts’ decisions to deny same-sex couples the right to enter into civil marriages.
The briefs also cite several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including Loving v. Virginia (1967), in which the U.S. Supreme Court did not focus on the narrow issue of whether there was a fundamental right to enter into an interracial marriage, but rather asked more generally whether there was a right to be free from unwarranted governmental interference in private and personal decisions regarding marriage.
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (www.nycla.org) was founded in 1908 as the first major bar association in the country that admitted members without regard to race, ethnicity, religion or gender. Since its inception, NYCLA has pioneered some of the most far-reaching and tangible reforms in American jurisprudence and has continuously played an active role in legal developments and public policy.