I just read a beautiful tribute to the late Hon. Judith Kaye (1938-2016), who was the much respected and beloved Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York. The tribute was written by Roberta Kaplan, Esq., who represented Edith Windsor in US vs Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court case that, overnight, extended equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in unprecedented ways. Ms. Kaplan recently remembered Judge Kaye at a dinner for Le-Gal, the LGBT Bar Association in NYC, of which I am proud to be a member.
She was talking specifically about Judge Kaye’s handling of Matter of Jacob, a case which made second parent adoption legal in New York. The issue was whether an unmarried partner could adopt without the biological parent giving up his or her rights. This was at a time when gay marriage was unthinkable. Judge Kaye understood how important it was to allow the child to have a “second parent.” “[T]o rule otherwise would mean that the thousands of New York children actually being raised in homes headed by two unmarried persons could only have one legal parent, not the two who want them.”
As Ms. Kaplan says, this decision, and others like it, were key in establishing equal rights for LGBT families through the decisions of Windsor, and its successor, Obergefell v. Hodges.
You can read the full text of Kaye and ‘Matter of Jacob’ here.
Thank you, Roberta Kaplan, and thank you, Judge Kaye, for being key players in creating equality.