Tuesday, 26 July 2011

MaltaToday: Gay couples wed in New York

MONDAY, JULY 25, 2011

Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd were the first same sex couple to be married in New York yesterday

Hundreds of gay couples have wed in New York after it became the sixth and most populous state in the US to recognise same-sex unions as legal.

Newly-weds brandished their marriage certificates as ceremonies were held from Manhattan to Niagara Falls.

Civil rights activists argue the US Congress should now repeal a federal law defining marriage as only existing between a man and a woman.

But thousands of people condemned the weddings at rallies in the state.

New York recognised same-sex weddings in a close state Senate vote on 24 June after strong lobbying by Governor Andrew Cuomo and activists.

The National Organization for Marriage held rallies in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo on Sunday, accusing Cuomo and lawmakers of redefining marriage without consulting voters.

Protesters chanted "Let the People Vote!" at the rallies.

A gathering in New York City that started with several hundred people opposite Cuomo's Manhattan office quickly swelled to thousands.

They waved signs saying "Excommunicate Cuomo" and "God cannot be mocked".

Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia all legalised gay weddings earlier, while Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey have approved gay civil unions.

But gay marriage is specifically banned in 39 states.

The federal Defense of Marriage Act signed into law in 1996 by former President Bill Clinton prohibits same-sex couples from receiving marriage-based federal benefits such as social security survivor benefits, health benefits and the right to file taxes jointly.

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