New York Will Treat Gay Widows The Same As Straight Widows

Because J. Craig Leiby and H. Kenneth Ranftle were legally married in Canada, a New York State judge ruled Leiby is entitled to inherit the estate of Ranftle, who died of lung cancer in 2008, just months after of their wedding. The ruling treats Leiby as a legal spouse, and denies an attempt from Ranftle’s brother to block Leiby.

One of Ranftle’s brothers, Richard, sought to contest the will and challenged the legitimacy of the marriage, saying it violated public policy in New York. The will left most of the estate to Leiby, with bequests to Richard Ranftle, other brothers and a goddaughter. “New York’s long-settled marriage recognition rule affords comity to out-of-state marriages” that are valid where they are made, the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division wrote. There are exceptions for marriages that violate New York statutes or “natural law,” sometimes interpreted to mean such situations as polygamy and incest. But “same-sex marriage does not fall within either of the two exceptions,” the appeals judges wrote.


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  • Qjersey

    This is why we need gay marriage: because of scumbags relatives.

  • greenmanTN

    Whenever someone asks why gays want marriage equality (as if the answer isn’t obvious already), I tell them it’s because they refused to respect and honor our relationships. We would have gotten around to it at some point anyway but they have themselves to thank for the timing and our sense of urgency.

    There are 1000s of stories like this one but many of them never make the news. There are a few I use as examples when needed.

    The lesbian who died alone in Florida because, despite their having medical proxies, powers of attorney, both names on a mortgage, and children they adopted together the hospital didn’t consider her partner “family.” The hospital did soften their attitude some, but only AFTER they realized they needed the partner’s signature to harvest organs for transplant. By this time the sick partner had slipped into a coma.

    The gay couple who had worked their ranch together, raising the children one had from a previous marriage. There was a signed and witnessed will leaving all the property to the surviving partner but it was missing one witness signature. The dead man’s 2nd cousin, with whom he had no relationship, contested the will and claimed the property.

    The lesbian who was brain damaged in an accident and her parents, who didn’t approve of the relationship, basically kidnapped her and wouldn’t let her partner of many years see her.

    And it’s possible there is a bomb waiting to go off in Virginia thanks to their “Defense of Marriage” law which states that not only can gays not be married but that other arrangements which simulate marriage are also forbidden. Some interpret that to include legal contracts like wills, etc. So far the law hasn’t been tested in court so its true impact is unknown.

  • MikeE

    since the article references a male/male couple, why did Queerty choose to use the word “widow” instead of the gender-proper “widower”?

    Mr. Leiby is legally the widower of Mr. Ranftle. Why demean him by using the feminine “widow”?

  • Riker

    @MikeE: Probably ignorance and lack of proofreading, as with a good portion of Queerty’s stories.

  • John

    “…The will left most of the estate to Leiby…” <– This.

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