About this Case

In this case—actually, two consolidated cases—taxpayers in New York challenged a local executive order and a state policy that recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages.  At this time, same-sex marriages were not permitted under New York law.  The taxpayer plaintiffs lost in the lower courts and appealed to the Court of Appeals.

After an inmate gave birth in jail, the baby suffered severe birth defects as the result of neglect and indifference by jail personnel.  The inmate mother sued on behalf of her daughter.  The defendant sought to avoid liability by arguing that the baby had not been a “person” during the delivery process.

Summary of NLF's Brief

We filed a friend-of-the-court making two arguments.  First, and most importantly, we made our famous “salt” argument.  The lower courts had rejected as being circular arguments that New York could limited marriage to one man and one woman because that was the traditional definition.  We noted by way of analogy, that salt was traditionally defined as one molecule of sodium combined with one molecule of chlorine.  Despite this definition being traditional, one simply could not produce salt by combining two molecules of sodium or two molecules of chlorine.  Second, we argued that it was for the legislature and not the courts to define marriage in New York. Sadly, even though the “salt” analogy had been persuasive elsewhere, the Court of Appeals rules against the taxpayers.