Couple’s marriage not valid in NY, but agreement on “‘divorce’ payment is
NEW YORK The marriage of two men in Massachusetts is not recognized by the state, but an agreement the couple made for one to pay the other $780,000 if they split is valid and legally enforceable, a judge has ruled.
The ruling, published Monday, Jan. 8, came in the separation of lawyer David Gonzalez and real estate investor Steven Green. They moved in together in a New York City suburb in 2001, married in February 2005, and made the agreement the following September.
Claiming cruel and inhuman treatment, Gonzalez sought a divorce in January 2006. Green wanted a ruling that they were never married and asked that the property he had given Gonzalez, including a ski house and two automobiles, be returned.
Although the marriage was void in New York, which does not recognize same-sex nuptials, such agreements can be made “provided only that illicit sexual relations were not part of the consideration of the contract,” State Supreme Court Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob wrote.
Green’s lawyer, Yonatan Levoritz, said he will file an appeal next week to try to get his client’s $780,000 back.
ACLU, school officials reach settlement in lawsuit over gay-straight alliance
ATLANTA, Ga. The American Civil Liberties Union has announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with officials in White County, Ga., who were sued after refusing to allow a gay-straight alliance to meet on campus.
The ACLU represents students in the club, who have been trying to meet at White County High School since January of 2005.
The terms of the settlement agreement include policies for ninth through 12th grades that make it clear that harassment against LGBT students is not permitted on campus. The school has also agreed to provide their faculty with annual training sessions on how to deal with and prevent anti-gay harassment.
The case arose after White County High School announced the elimination of all non-curricular clubs shortly after the formation of the GSA.
The ACLU brought a lawsuit against the school district in February 2006, claiming that the school officials violated the students’ rights under the federal Equal Access Act, which requires schools to provide equal treatment to all non-curricular clubs, along with other civil rights violations.
In July of 2006, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against the school, requiring it to allow the GSA and other school clubs to meet.
Gay marriage opponents withdraw federal lawsuit
BOSTON Gay marriage opponents have withdrawn a federal lawsuit that sought $5 million from lawmakers who blocked a vote in November on a proposed constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.
The decision to withdraw the lawsuit came two days after lawmakers voted to advance the amendment.
The measure still needs approval in the next legislative session before it can appear on the ballot in 2008.
VoteOnMarriage.org filed the lawsuit in December against 109 lawmakers who voted to adjourn the Legislature without considering the amendment. It claimed the lawmakers violated supporters’ rights to free speech, to petition the government and due process under the law.
Glen Lavy, a lawyer representing VoteOnMarriage.org, said there was no reason to pursue the case “now that the Legislature has chosen to do the right thing and vote.”
The decision also follows the threat of a countersuit by 14 of 109 lawmakers. The lawmakers sent a letter to the group on Dec. 29 calling the suit frivolous and giving them 21 days to withdraw it.
TV news anchor marries partner 1 day after amendment advances in Legislature
Boston’s 7 News anchor Randy Price married his longtime partner, Mark Steffen, on the steps of the statehouse Friday, Jan. 5, one day after a proposed ban on same-sex marriage advanced in the Massachusetts Legislature, according to a report in The Advocate.
“Our timing couldn’t be better,” Price told BostonHerald.com, referring to the marriage ban. “But actually it’s pure coincidence since [today] is our 30th anniversary.”
Price said he and Steffen wanted to swap vows on the capitol steps for “symbolic reasons.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, January 12, 2006.