Yesterday the New York Court of Appeals began hearing arguments in two cases relating to marriage equality. The first is over whether the state can (as it now does) extend health-insurance benefits to same-sex partners who were legally married elsewhere, and the second is over whether Westchester County executive Andrew Spano had the right in 2006 to direct county officials to recognize such unions. This is seen as a staging ground for a case coming up through the courts over whether Governor Paterson had the right, last year, to order statewide officials to recognize same-sex marriages from places like Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, and other states where they are legal. The plaintiffs in these cases, who are fighting against the health-insurance coverage and extension of other protective benefits for gay couples, are funded by the conservative Scottsdale, Arizona–based Alliance Defense Fund — a group which, of course, has every reason to care about whether a few hundred couples in Westchester, New York, file joint or individual tax returns.
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