New York’s highest court ruled that a Vermont civil union establishes parental rights for the non-biological parent. The ruling, in the case brought by Lambda Legal, was unanimous.
The court, however, did not overrule a 1991 decision that said only biological or adoptive parents may seek custody and visitation rights. However, the latest ruling strengthens recognition of same-sex relationships in a state that doesn’t issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian ouples.
In September 2009, Vermont’s marriage equality law replaced civil unions.
Last year, a marriage equality law proposed by New York’s governor passed the Assembly but failed in the Senate. New York does recognize marriages and civil unions performed elsewhere, thanks to an executive order and several legal decisions.
In a related case, the court ruled 4-3 that a woman is entitled to seek child support from her former partner. The partner is not the biological parent, but the couple raised the child together until they split.