Paterson: Same-Sex Marriage Memo Does Not Change State Law

David Paterson says his recently publicized May 14 memo to state agencies—which ordered them to legally recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states—is not in any way a change to state law.

“The Legislature has not provided for marriage equality here in New York. I’m an advocate for it, but that’s not the reason that I came to this conclusion,” Paterson said this afternoon at a press conference in his Midtown office.

The directive extends legal rights to same-sex couples with respect to hospital visitations, burial wishes and property inheritance, among other areas. Paterson said this would have no monetary effect on the state or private sector.

“I am taking the same approach that this state always has with respect to out of state or marriages conducted [by] foreign governments outside of the state of New York. I am following the law as it has always existed,” Paterson said.

“You have to understand I have not interpreted this law any differently. What I am trying to do is accommodate the fact that if I didn’t take this action, I would leave this state open to lawsuits, I would leave the state treasury open to monetary damages and I would be discriminating against individuals who are coming here from other jurisdictions.”

When asked whether he could get Republican Joe Bruno to support the move, Paterson said, “I saw him yesterday and I haven’t been able to persuade him as yet. But it’s an election year, maybe the public will.”

Paterson: Same-Sex Marriage Memo Does Not Change State Law