The Appellate Division in New York held in February of 2011, in the matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, that they recognize as valid the Canadian marriage of H. Kenneth Ranftle and J. Craig Leiby. The late Kenneth Ranftle named Craig as “surviving spouse and sole distributee” in his will. The court found that the recognizing of the Canadian marriage, for purposes of extending the partner of the deceased inheritance benefits, was not in violation of New York public policy.
The court said, “the legislature’s failure to authorize same sex couples to enter into marriage in New York, or acquire recognition of validly perform out of state same sex marriages, cannot serve as an expression of public policy for the state.” The decision was unanimously made by the Appellate Division of the First Department.
Obama Administration to No Longer Defend the Defense of Marriage Act
The decision was rendered on February 24, 2011. This was the same day that the Obama Administration in Washington formally announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. This law defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law.
Prior Marriage in 2008
Mr. Ranftle and Mr. Leiby married in Quebec, Ontario, in June of 2008. Mr. Ranftle lived together for a period of five months after their marriage. His will left the large majority of his estate to Mr. Leiby. Mr. Leiby was also designated his executor.
Mr. Leiby submitted a probate petition in New York County Surrogates Court. In it he claimed he was the surviving spouse and only distributee of the estate. One of Mr. Ranftle’s brothers brought a proceeding to set aside the probate petition.
Same Sex Marriage Not Valid in New York
The New York State Court of Appeals has previously ruled that same sex marriages are not valid if entered into in the state of New York. However, the court does recognize marriages in foreign countries and in other states where same sex marriages are considered legal.
During his administration, Governor David Patterson instructed state agencies to consider same sex marriages entered into in foreign countries and other states where they are considered legal, to be excepted in New York State.
Mr. Ranftle’s brother had argued in the Surrogates Court, “recognizing same sex marriages is a fundamental legal claim that cannot occur in the absence of legislative authority.” His argument was not accepted by either the Surrogates Court in New York County or the Appellate Division, First Department.
For more than thirty years, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo has been handling divorce proceedings in New York. We represent individuals in same sex relationships. We negotiate pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. We protect both mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights. We negotiate separation agreements on behalf of our clients. We litigate issues involving orders of protection, family law, child custody, child abuse and child neglect. Call us should you need a matrimonial or family law attorney within the Metropolitan New York area. Our phone numbers are 718-350-2802, 516-561-6645 or 1-800-344-6431.