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DRL 10 – Domestic Relations Law 10

DRL 10

DRL 10
Domestic Relations Law 10

Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, continues to be a civil contract, to which the consent of parties capable in law of making a contract is essential.
Matter of Shields v. Madigan, 2004 NY Slip Op 24393, ¶¶ 2-3, 5 Misc. 3d 901, 904, 783 N.Y.S.2d 270, 274 (Sup. Ct.)
The former plain reading of the statute’s terms in light of its historical context, as well as judicial precedent of this state, led to a conclusion that same-sex marriage was prohibited. This conclusion was based on the Domestic Relations Law definition of marriage as a civil contract between two consenting parties who are legally capable of entering a contract and contains an age requirement (Domestic Relations Law §§ 10, 15).
The Court further stated “[t]he parties to a marriage must obtain a valid marriage license, issued by a municipal clerk, and the license must be presented to a person authorized to solemnize the marriage (Domestic Relations Law § 13). Prior to issuing a marriage license, the town clerk must determine whether the applicants are legally competent to marry (Domestic Relations Law § 15).

DRL 10-a
Domestic Relations Law 10-a

1. A marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid regardless of whether the parties to the marriage are of the same or different sex.

2. No government treatment or legal status, effect, right, benefit, privilege, protection or responsibility relating to marriage, whether deriving from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of law, shall differ based on the parties to the marriage being or having been of the same sex rather than a different sex.  When necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses under the law, all gender-specific language or terms shall be construed in a gender-neutral manner in all such sources of law.

Nolan v. State of N.Y., 2018 NY Slip Op 00269, ¶ 7, 158 A.D.3d 186, 196, 69 N.Y.S.3d 277, 284 (App. Div. 1st Dept.)

In Yonaty, the Court considered the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v Texas (539 US 558, 123 S Ct 2472, 156 L Ed 2d 508 [2003]) striking down laws criminalizing homosexual conduct, as well as this state’s own legislation and judicial pronouncements recognizing and extending equal rights to all persons, including “lesbians, gays and bisexuals” (97 AD3d at 145, citing Executive Law § 296, Domestic Relations Law § 10-a, and Hernandez v Robles, 7 NY3d 338, 855 NE2d 1, 821 NYS2d 770 [2006]).

DRL 10-b
Domestic Relations Law 10-b

1. Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law, rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, a religious entity as defined under the education law or section two of the religious corporations law, or a corporation incorporated under the benevolent orders law or described in the benevolent orders law but formed under any other law of this state, or a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious corporation, or any employee thereof, being managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order, or a not-for-profit corporation as described in this subdivision, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.  Any such refusal to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges shall not create any civil claim or cause of action or result in any state or local government action to penalize, withhold benefits, or discriminate against such religious corporation, benevolent order, a not-for-profit corporation operated, supervised, or controlled by a religious corporation, or any employee thereof being managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious corporation, benevolent order, or a not-for-profit corporation.

2. Notwithstanding any state, local or municipal law or rule, regulation, ordinance, or other provision of law to the contrary, nothing in this article shall limit or diminish the right, pursuant to subdivision eleven of section two hundred ninety-six of the executive law, of any religious or denominational institution or organization, or any organization operated for charitable or educational purposes, which is operated, supervised or controlled by or in connection with a religious organization, to limit employment or sales or rental of housing accommodations or admission to or give preference to persons of the same religion or denomination or from taking such action as is calculated by such organization to promote the religious principles for which it is established or maintained.

3. Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to limit the protections and exemptions otherwise provided to religious organizations under section three of article one of the constitution of the state of New York.
L. 24 Bender’s Forms for the Civil Practice 2011, ch.96, § 1, eff. July 24, 2011, added DRL § 10-b, which, following up on DRL § 10-a in extending the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples, includes specific exemptions for religious institutions, as well as individual clergy, from civil claims and causes of action, including discrimination claims relating to their refusal to participate in, or provide services or accommodations to, same-sex marriage ceremonies.

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