Following the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage in California, the governor of New York has now ordered state agencies to start recognising same-sex marriages from other territories or states.
Governor David Paterson on Wednesday gave these bodies until June 30 to change their policies and procedures as required.
Bizarrely, same-sex marriages cannot yet be legally licensed in the state of New York itself.
The directive will however allow gay and lesbian couples to travel to California, or any country where same-sex marriage is legal, to marry and then return to New York and have their marriage recognised by the state.
“This is a milestone in the fight for fairness in New York,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union in a statement.
“For the first time, couples in New York who have never known true security for their families will be officially entitled to treatment by our state government that respects their rights. They should now finally get a taste of the family protections other married couples and their children enjoy.”
An attempt last year to adopt a measure in the legislature to allow same-sex marriage in the state of New York failed, but Governor Paterson has said that he will continue to strive towards licensing same-sex marriages.
“We’re aware that our advocacy is incomplete and we will keep trying until people who love each other and want to get married, regardless of who they are, have that opportunity,” he was quoted as saying in a video report.
The California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008 that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry in that state. It is expected that the first legal same-sex marriages in California will take place on June 17.
Opponents of the court’s ruling have filed a petition with the courts for a re-hearing and to delay the implementation of same-sex marriage until after November.