Written by Emily Ekland, Albany Government Law Review Member
New York law as it applies to same-sex partner rights is ambiguous. We know that same-sex partners do not have the same rights as married individuals, however, it has yet to be decided whether New York would be willing to recognize civil unions and same-sex marriages from other states in divorce actions. In 2010, the New York Court of Appeals cleared up some questions involving parental rights and responsibilities of same-sex partners who bring a child into their relationship. Today, a same-sex partner can be chargeable with child support, but does not have parental custody or visitation rights under New York law. These two holdings may appear contradictory, but the requisite law of New York State validates them. This is a discussion of the case law presented to the Court of Appeals in 2010 regarding same-sex partner rights.
H.M. v. E.T.
According to the record on appeal, H.M and E.T. were romantically involved for six years, from 1989 to 1995, and were living together for the majority of those years. While both women had discussed having a child early in the relationship, they did not conceive until 1993. Prior to H.M.’s pregnancy, the two discussed child rearing practices, methods of contraception, and whether to raise the child with E.T.’s other children. In 1994, H.M. gave birth and both women accepted responsibility for the care of the child. Shortly thereafter, the relationship ended and the two parties separated. E.T. continued to sporadically provide monetary support for the child, even after a failed attempt to reconcile with H.M.