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New York judge paves way for recognition of ‘multi-person relationships’ 

CNA Staff By CNA Staff

(Image: Rohit Tandon/

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 10, 2022 / 16:25 pm (CNA).

A New York judge opened the door to legal recognition of multi-partner relationships while ruling in a housing court case.

In a ruling on a dispute over a rent-stabilized apartment, Judge Karen May Bacdayan of the Civil Court of the City of New York, opined that the legal protection of same-sex relationships shouldn’t be limited to two people.

The case centers on three men: Scott Anderson, who died in 2021; Markyus O’Neill, who lived with Anderson in the now-deceased’s apartment; and Anderson’s life partner Robert Romano, who lived at a different location.

After Anderson’s death, O’Neill was forced to give up the rent-controlled apartment because, according to the landlord, he was “nothing more than a roommate.” The late Anderson’s “life partner of 25 years” was Romano, the petitioner stated.

In her ruling in the case West 49th St., LLC v O’Neill on Sept. 23., Bacdayan raised the possibility that the three men could have constituted a “family-like relationship.”

Two same-sex union cases — New York’s Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co. and the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges — did not go far enough in expanding the definition of relationships, she said.

“In sum, the problem with Braschi and Obergefell is that they recognize only two-person relationships,” she said in her decision, before citing Judge Joseph W. Bellacosa’s concurring judgment in Braschi.

“Those decisions, while revolutionary, still adhered to the majoritarian, societal view that only two people can have a family-like relationship; that only people who are ‘committed’ in a way defined by certain traditional factors qualify for protection from ‘one of the harshest decrees known to the law—eviction from one’s home.’”

She concluded: “Those decisions, however, open the door for consideration of other relational constructs; and, perhaps, the time has arrived.”

In response, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, warned on Oct. 4 that the judge “essentially gave New York’s blessing to polyamorous unions in her September decision, declaring that ‘… the problem with [previous same-sex marriage rulings] is that they recognize only two-person relationships.’”

Bacdayan said in her decision that the definition of “family” has “morphed considerably” in recent decades.

The 1989 case Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co. was groundbreaking in its time, she wrote.

“The New York State Court of Appeals became the first American appellate court to recognize that a nontraditional, two-person, same-sex, committed, family-like relationship is entitled to legal recognition, and that the nontraditional family member is entitled to receive noneviction protections,” Bacdayan wrote. “The Braschi Court interpreted the Rent Control Law in effect at a time when same-sex marriage was not legal in any state, and broadly construed the law to effectuate its remedial purposes.”

Following Braschi, in 2014, the Supreme Court decided Obergefell v. Hodges, which the judge said “established same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.”

She took issue with both Braschi and Obergefell for “limit[ing] their holdings to two-person relationships.” Instead, she said, this case “presents the distinct and complex issue of significant multi-person relationships.”

After the Braschi decision, the New York legislature amended the Rent Stabilization Code and “added evidentiary factors to be considered when determining whether a person has sufficient emotional and financial commitment to the former tenant of record to qualify for non-eviction protections,” the judge wrote.

Those include factors such as the “longevity of the relationship” and the “intermingling of finances,” she wrote. It did not include, she highlighted, “evidence of a sexual relationship between such persons.”

“Why then, except for the very real possibility of implicit majoritarian animus, is the limitation of two persons inserted into the definition of a family-like relationship for the purposes of receiving the same protections from eviction accorded to legally formalized or blood relationships?” she asked. “Is ‘two’ a ‘code word’ for monogamy?”

“Why does a person have to be committed to one other person in only certain prescribed ways in order to enjoy stability in housing after the departure of a loved one?” she added. “Do all nontraditional relationships have to comprise or include only two primary persons?”

“The court recognizes the difficulty and potential implications of not interpreting the Braschi Court’s interpretation of the word ‘family’ as drawing a bright line which must end at what is now considered a traditional dyadic relationship,” she concluded, before again citing Bellacosa’s concurring judgment in Braschi.

“But, ‘[w]e just do not know the answers or implications for an exponential number of varied fact situations, so we should do what courts are in the business of doing—deciding cases as best they fallibly can.’ Accordingly, the court declines to award either party summary judgment.”

The decision cleared the way for O’Neill to make the legal case that he was more than “only a roommate,” and a member of a three-person relationship, and therefore, eligible to keep the rent-controlled apartment.

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  1. And there is no way they’ll stop at three.
    The only question is, who will be the first prelate who will gleefully “discover” this is what Christianity always meant to have happen. I hope the Lord will call be home (or to begin my tenure in purgatory) before it happens.

  2. We read: “Two same-sex union cases — New York’s Braschi v. Stahl Assocs. Co. and the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges — did not go far enough in expanding the definition of relationships, she [Bacdayan] said.”

    Exactly so, but things are still not quite right. Why does the judge still exclude relations with critters, ye know, bestiality? Nothing yet in the court ruling about any sheep or dogs that might have been kept in the apartment. Or goldfish or chimpanzees.
    Back in 2014, immediately following Obergefell v Hodges, a young lady in bellwether Seattle donned wedding gown and veil and married an older historic brick building that had captured her affection. (You just can’t put anything past these older “guys”, or whatever.) So far, there have been no reports about chips off the ol’ block.

    Butt, maybe New York is a good test case for eventually overturning Obergefell v Hodges? Maybe Judge Karen May Bacdayan may back down.

  3. Judicial activism at it’s worst. It was inevitable that the Alphabet Mob would be screaming for polygamy to be legalized next. After that, child marriages, incestuous marriages, marriages with donkeys and other farm animals, and marriages to yourself (as happened in my native South Africa a couple of years ago) will be next. Time to turn back the clock on the sexual revolution before it destroys our civilization.

    • Exactly, Deacon Ed.

      And if Catholics keep voting for Democrats, we’ll soon see people marrying children, pets, boats, lingerie and potato salad.

      Families are one of satan’s key targets as he promotes human misery and death.

      And, as has become painfully obvious, Democrats are satan’s sworn servants.

  4. I am surprised it took this long. I am further surprised it took “gay marriage” to get us to this point. Islam allows polygamy, and we have the First Amendment.
    Once this is codified in IRS rules (exemptions, etc) and corporate benefit rules/laws, what will the Church’s response be when Adam and Eve want to introduce Sally into the relationship? Getting married for financial/economic reasons has a very long history, longer than the “love” reasons we have today.

  5. It may take until 2064 for the SCOTUS to do the job they are assigned and overturn the 2014 Obergefell v. Hodges decision and realize that our Constitution says nothing about a right to same-sex “marriage,” at which time, the alphabet people will riot like the murders did when Dobbs realized that there is nothing in the Constitution that gives anyone the “right” to kill babies in the womb.

  6. Paul knew where this was going to end up, and he knew why…1 Timothy 4:1-3 (ESV) 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage

  7. So I wonder how long it will be before the Catholic German Bishops begin blessing multi-person marriages? I’m sure it will be something most American Catholic Universities will recognize as legitimate by next Fall providing special living quarters and going out of their way not to offend them with the “S” word. The Pope of course will continue to be asleep at the wheel. Oh Lord, are not the days of Noah and Lot upon us?

    • “Oh Lord, are not the days of Noah and Lot upon us?”

      Divine Mercy in my Soul, 635, The Blessed Virgin Mary
      you have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh, how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for [granting] mercy. If you keep silent now, you will be answering for a great number of souls on that terrible day

      Divine Mercy in My Soul, 965
      Jesus looked at me and said, Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.

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