Samuels v. New York State Department of Health

Brief Filed: 5/05
Court: New York Appellate Division, Third Department
Year of Decision: 2006

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 280.17KB)


Constitutional challenge to New York’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Index Topic

Sexual Orientation (discrimination; same-sex marriage)


Plaintiffs filed suite in New York Supreme Court, Albany County, challenging the denial of marriage licenses as in violation of the New York Constitution. The trial court ruled for defendants. In March 2005, the Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) denied plaintiffs’ request for an expedited review, meaning the case would be heard by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department.

APA's Position

This case poses fundamentally the same questions as the challenges to same-sex marriage statutes in other cases such as Lewis v. Harris, Li v. Oregon and Andersen v. King County in which the APA filed amicus briefs. Although some details of the legal standards and specific arguments at issue in each of the cases may vary slightly, the psychological issues addressed by APA’s amicus brief are essentially the same.


Three New York State cases (Hernandez v. Robles, Shields v. Madigan and Samuels v. New York State Department of Health) were consolidated for review and heard by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, in May 2006. In July 2006, the court rejected the call for same-sex marriage. The New York Court of Appeals, in a 4-2 decision, upheld the New York Domestic Relations Law’s limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples, holding that the New York Constitution does not compel recognition of same-sex marriages. In a strong dissent, Chief Judge Kayne argued that the plurality applied too lenient a standard of review and that, in any event, the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage lacked a rational basis. The plurality, the concurrence and the dissent all discussed — and at times focused on — issues addressed in the APA’s amicus brief.