New York Gay Marriage Bill: What Would Happen If It Passes?

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New York legislators could vote as early as Wednesday to legalize gay marriage in the state. New York would become the sixth state (plus Washington, D.C.) to permit gay marriage, and the third to approve it via a legislative bill and not a court decision. With gay marriage in California in legal limbo, it would also become the most populous state with gay marriage, potentially influencing legislators in other states, such as Maryland and Rhode Island.As a gay marriage vote inches closer in New York, here's a list six things that would - and wouldn't - happen should the bill pass.

New York legislators could vote as early as Wednesday to legalize gay marriage in the state. New York would become the sixth state (plus Washington, D.C.) to permit gay marriage, and the third to approve it via a legislative bill and not a court decision. With gay marriage in California in legal limbo, it would also become the most populous state with gay marriage, potentially influencing legislators in other states, such as Maryland and Rhode Island.

As a gay marriage vote inches closer in New York, here's a list six things that would - and wouldn't - happen should the bill pass.

#6 Would happen: Gay couples can marry

Today, same-sex couples can't marry in New York - though the state government does recognize gay marriages performed in other states, due to a 2008 executive order issued by then-Gov. David Paterson.

If the law passes, gay couples in New York would be able to tie the knot 30 days later.

#5 Would happen: Marriage benefits for same-sex spouses

Though same-sex couples have some benefits in New York, including state employee benefits and hospital and nursing-home visitation rights, married couples are entitled to hundreds of additional legal benefits.

This discrepancy has been one reason New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vigorously supported the same-sex marriage bill since he was elected last November.

"For too long, same-sex couples have been denied the freedom to marry, as well as hundreds of rights that other New Yorkers take for granted," Governor Cuomo said last Tuesday at the introduction of the same-sex marriage bill in the state legislature.

Marriage benefits include pensions, inheritance, adoption and parenting rights, and spousal tax rates. Obligations include certain financial disclosures and the duty to pay child support.

Advocates say that without marriage protections gay couples face a range of practical and financial complications.

"This is something that's not only wrenching to the heart," says Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, who lobbied in favor of the gay-marriage law. "It's also wrenching to the pocketbook."

#4 Could happen: Impact on economy

Thousands of same-sex couples from New York and surrounding states could head to the Empire State to be married - bringing millions of dollars with them.

Wedding parties pour money into private businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and wedding venues, and into the government, by way of sales taxes and marriage-license fees.

Gay marriages in New York could generate up to $210 million for the state's economy, according to a 2009 analysis by New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson. That would represent 0.02 percent of New York's roughly $1.1 trillion annual economic output.

The same analysis also notes that private employers who do not already offer benefits to domestic partners could face $69 million in new costs statewide if the law is passed. …