It is worth pointing out that the two most prominent politicians in the successful campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York want nothing to do with marriage. For themselves, anyway.
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
Both of them, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have generally treated matrimony as if it were the worst idea since the Edsel. Mr. Bloomberg is so disenchanted that he said soon after taking office in 2002 that he would abjure the mayoral right to officiate at weddings. (He bent that vow the following year to preside over the union of Judith Nathan and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who believes so firmly in marriage that he has entered into it several times.)
The mayor and the governor, who marched front and center in a celebratory gay pride parade on Sunday, were each married once. Each was divorced — Mr. Bloomberg amicably from Susan Brown, Mr. Cuomo from Kerry Kennedy in a bruising parting that invited comparisons to roller derby. Each man has a longtime girlfriend, with neither relationship showing signs of being altar-bound anytime soon.
The fact that relatively few voters seem to care about those arrangements underlines how attitudes have changed, at least in New York, on the matter of who wakes up in the morning next to whom.
Still, the governor and the mayor stand as object lessons to gay men and lesbians contemplating marriage. Couples can, and do, break up. Just as city and town clerks anticipate a surge in applications for same-sex wedding licenses once the new law goes into effect in late July, and just as businesses like florists and caterers expect to benefit, divorce lawyers assume that, in time, they will have more clients.
“There’s a demographic pool that never existed before,” said Raoul Felder, the prominent divorce lawyer. Mr. Felder said this not with hands-rubbed-together glee but, rather, as statement of reality. A colleague in his Manhattan law firm, Bettina D. Hindin, had her own sober assessment. “I may be a divorce lawyer,” Ms. Hindin said, “but I don’t hope for the demise of marriages.” All the same, she added, “in coming weeks we’re going to be reading and parsing through everything” to understand the new law’s implications for divorce.
Several matrimonial lawyers said in interviews that broadly speaking, the rules should be the same for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. But there could be complications.
Let’s suppose, Ms. Hindin said, that one woman in a lesbian marriage has a baby, through whatever means. If the other woman does not legally adopt the child, there may be questions about her rights and obligations to that child should the marriage end.
Where to get divorced is another issue, one that has already arisen in other states where marriage equality exists. If a gay couple marry in New York, then move to a state that forbids such unions, they may find they are unable to divorce in that state, the reasoning there being: How can we dissolve a marriage that we never recognized in the first place?
Another New York divorce lawyer, Stephen I. Silberfein, anticipated a “rush” by gay couples to get prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, to spell out what had belonged to whom, given that “none of it was shared marital property.” Palimony — not a word often heard these days — could also be an issue. It’s conceivable, Mr. Silberfein said, that if a longtime relationship breaks up, one party may say: “We were partners for 30 years. I deserve to share in what was there before we were married.”
Then again, the fact that plenty of gay couples have already been together for years suggests to some lawyers that divorce may not be a dominant issue.
“A lot of divorces occur because people didn’t know each other that well,” said one divorce lawyer, who had reasons to have his request for anonymity honored. “A lot of gay couples have been together for a lot longer than straight couples before they get married. They’re less likely to get divorced, because they know each other better.”
For more local news from The Times, including the Bloomberg administration’s use of “pilot programs” to introduce potentially controversial projects without red tape and community board scrutiny, see the N.Y./Region section.
Here’s what City Room is reading in other papers and blogs this morning.
Among those celebrating the legalization of gay marriage: Divorce lawyers, who say this will eventually improve their own business. [Daily News]
A juror who voted to acquit two police officers charged with raping a drunken woman said she actually believes they are guilty. [Daily News]
Subway riders are being forced to wait on platforms alongside stuffed plastic garbage bags because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority cannot meet its own garbage collection schedule. [Daily News]
The new Brooklyn Cyclones manager’s biggest challenge: losing his 18-year-old daughter to cancer in 1993. [Daily News]
A veteran Bronx police officer has been arrested after repeatedly threatening to kill his child’s mother during a two-hour text-message tirade. [New York Post]
A prominent N.A.A.C.P. leader is sending her child to a New England boarding school, even as the civil rights group is suing to block charter schools in New York City. [New York Post]
A college-bound Queens teenager was gunned down in cold blood while walking home from a party with friends. [New York Post]
A former opera singer is suing American Airlines over her dust-up with a fellow passenger concerning a window seat. The singer, Gabriele Hammerstein, is an 87-year-old cousin of the late lyricist Oscar.
A year after a tree branch fell and killed their 6-month-old daughter in Central Park, a couple is suing the city, the Central Park Conservancy, the zoo’s management company and the tree experts who were supposed to perform tree work in the park. [Gothamist]
The guy who the police say scribbles “Moustache” on subway advertisements is Joseph Patrick Waldo, 26, who has been arrested. And no, he doesn’t have a mustache. [Gothamist]
Members of Manhattan’s Community Board 6 discussed a draft resolution that would help them crack down on organized bar hopping. [DNA info]