Gay partner can inherit — in New York, anyway

Susan Sommer

Lambda Legal has won another lawsuit related to same-sex marriage, this time in New York. The court ruled that the survivor of a same-sex marriage can inherit as a spouse.

J. Craig Leiby and H. Kenneth Ranftle were together 25 years and married in Canada in 2008. Ranftle died of lung cancer later that year and left his estate to Leiby.

After his death, one of Ranftle’s brothers challenged the will claiming same-sex marriage is not legal in New York. That state does, however, recognize marriages performed elsewhere and that recognition has been upheld in court at least twice.

“The Leiby case marks the first time a New York appeals court has afforded recognition to same-sex spouses for inheritance purposes,” said Lambda Legal senior counsel Susan Sommer.

Sommer said that the ruling protects out-of-state marriages. Families are prevented from pretending there was no relationship and disregarding the wishes of the deceased.

—  David Taffet