New York Marriage Recognition Rule

New York’s long-settled “marriage recognition rule” affords recognition to out-of-state marriages and recognizes as valid a marriage considered valid in the place where celebrated, unless it is contrary to the prohibitions of natural law or an express statutory prohibition.  Same-sex marriage does not fall within either  of these exceptions to the marriage recognition rule.

In a ruling late February, The New York Appellate Division, First Department affirmed this established NY tenet in the Matter of Ranftle. The facts involved a man’s petition to vacate a Surrogate’s Court probate decree finding that his deceased’s brother same-sex partner was entitled to the residue of the will as the surviving spouse. The lower court found that the men’s marriage was valid under the laws of Canada and did not fall into either of the two exceptions to the marriage recognition rule, as it was not affirmatively prohibited or proscribed by natural law.

On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed, rejecting a public policy argument brought forth by the appellant.