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A Christian legal group seeking to stop New York agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages performed outside the state argued in the state's highest court Tuesday that the practice amounts to a policy decision that requires approval by lawmakers.

Attorney Brian Raum told state Court of Appeals judges that a law their court upheld three years ago defines marriage as between one man and one woman, based on "well established public policies linking marriage in New York to procreation and the welfare of children."

Raum's group — the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz. — is representing New York plaintiffs who are challenging state and county benefits for spouses of same-sex couples married in Canada or states where those marriages are legal.

The state has exceptions for marriages performed elsewhere that are considered abhorrent in New York, including incest and polygamy. Raum argued that same-sex marriage should be regarded as another exception.

He acknowledged when questioned by judges that a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York recently passed the state Assembly. He also acknowledged that the law defining marriage is a century old, and some more recent statutes protect gays in New York from discrimination.


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