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ADF attorneys file suit to stop N.Y. agency from circumventing marriage laws

New York State Department of Civil Service attempted to redefine term “spouse” to include same-sex couples who were “wed” in other states or countries
“Just Who do We Think We Are?”

ALBANY, N.Y. — Challenging a state agency’s attempt to redefine marriage, ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of a group of local taxpayers.  The complaint alleges that the New York State Department of Civil Service acted illegally when it chose to redefine the term “spouse” for the purpose of allowing same-sex couples who were “wed” outside the state to receive state benefits.

“Marriage is not simply a state benefits system, and its redefinition would be extremely damaging to our families and children,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Brian W. Raum. “Because marriage is defined as the legal union of one man and one woman, the New York State Department of Civil Service has no legal authority to recognize out-of-state same-sex ‘marriages.’”

Officials at DCS directed all state and local agencies to provide health insurance benefits to same-sex couples “married” in other states or countries at the taxpayers’ expense.  On May 1, DCS declared that the agency “recognizes, as spouses, the parties to any same-sex marriage performed in jurisdictions where that marriage is legal.”

New York State law provides taxpayers with the right to challenge any illegal action by a state official which expends state funds.  In July 2006, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled in Funderburke v. Dept. of Civil Service that same-sex couples “married” in Canada were not “spouses” entitled to state insurance benefits under New York Civil Service Law.

“Neither the New York State Department of Civil Service, nor any other state agency, has the right to circumvent the law in order to further their own partisan political purposes,” Raum said. “But that is exactly why the DCS Commissioner implemented this new policy.”


ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.