Hopefully lesbian and gay New Yorkers who have married out of state, but expect their marriages to be enforceable in New York state courts, will not run into the same problems as Jennifer Tobits, about whom I just blogged, who is having her right to inherit her now deceased wife’s assets challenged by her wife’s parents.

Argument is taking place today in a New York appellate court on the same legal issue as that at issue in the Tobits case.  As reported by the ABA Journal:

A New York man who married his longtime same-sex partner in Canada last year is entitled to inherit his estate as his spouse, a New York probate judge has held in what a law professor says is a historic ruling likely to have significant impact.

Because the marriage was valid in Canada, it is recognized under New York law, held Manhattan Surrogate Court Judge Kristin Booth Glen. A lawyer for J. Craig Leiby, 65, who is the surviving spouse of Kenneth Ranftle, 54, said the probate petition was not opposed, reports the Associated Press. Both men lived and worked in New York.

“The potential impact of this first decision by an elected New York Surrogate to recognize a same-sex marriage contracted out-of-state is huge,” says the Leonard Link law blog. The blog post, which was written by Arthur Leonard, a professor at New York Law School, discusses the case and its legal setting at length.

The case is: Matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, File No. 4585-2008 (N.Y.L.J., Feb. 3, 2009). It was decided on Jan. 26.

Related coverage: New York Times (death notice): “Ranftle, Howard K. (Ken)”

As noted above, Art Leonard has the fuller story on his blogWeiss, Buell and Bell are representing the surviving partner.  Carol Buell and Erica Bell are among the nation’s experts on lesbian and gay family law.  They’re also lawyers you oughtta go see to draw up your estate planning documents.  Eve Preminger (former judge on the NY Surrogates Court, the court that issued the initial ruling in the case) an attorney at Kramer Levin, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the New York City Bar Association, and Susan Sommer, an attorney at Lambda Legal, handled the argument today.


  1. […] Yesterday, the First Department heard arguments, rather argument, in the Ranftle case – a case that tests the question of whether marriages entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions will be treated as legal marriages under New York law.  Back story here. […]

  2. Nice weblog right here! Additionally your web site rather a lot up very fast! What host are you using? Can I get your associate hyperlink on your host? I wish my web site loaded up as fast as yours lol

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