Manhattan Court recognizes Canadian Gay Marriage

"The potential impact of this first decision by an elected New York surrogate recognizing a same-sex marriage contracted out-of-state is huge". GayCityNews

New York County Surrogate Kristin Booth Glen issued a decision on January 26 recognizing the Canadian same-sex marriage of J. Craig Leiby and the late H. Kenneth Ranftle.

Contrary to a ruling issued last year by Queens County Surrogate Robert Nahman, who expressed doubt about whether a Canadian same-sex marriage would be recognized in a New York probate proceeding in the absence of a ruling on the question by the Appellate Division for the 2nd Department, in which Queens County is located, Surrogate Glen expressed no such reservation, even though the there is similarly no ruling yet by the Appellate Division for the 1st Department, which includes Manhattan.

Rather, applying established principles of New York marriage recognition law and citing the 4th Department's decision from last February 1 in Martinez v. County of Monroe, Glen concluded, "Mr. Leiby is decedent's surviving spouse and sole distributee," so there was no need for formal notification of Ranftle's surviving siblings about the pending probate proceeding regarding the will he left. Glen signed the probate decree, allowing Ranftle's last will and testament to go into effect.

In last year's Martinez case, an Appellate Division panel unanimously ruled that Monroe Community College must recognize the Canadian marriage of one of its employees and accord her lesbian spouse health benefits.

Under the state's Estates, Powers and Trusts Law, a surviving spouse of someone who dies without a will automatically inherits the entire estate, if the deceased had no children. If there are surviving children, they receive half of the estate, the spouse the other half.