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New York's top court on Thursday rejected a Christian legal group's challenge to some government benefits provided to gay couples legally married elsewhere and now living in New York.

The court rejected an argument that same-sex marriage was akin to incest and polygamy but avoided declaring that gay couples are entitled to all the rights of other married couples.

In a 4-3 decision on the narrow question of benefits, the Court of Appeals did not address whether the state must recognize same-sex marriage but encouraged the Legislature to settle the issue. The case was pushed by the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz.

A law to allow same-sex marriage in New York is hung up in the state Senate but could come to a vote before the end of the year. One judge warned that failing to address the larger question of recognizing same-sex marriages will create a problem.

"The effect of the majority's rationale in affirming these orders will be to permit an unworkable pattern of conflicting executive and administrative directives ... (at the) individual discretion of each agency head," Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick warned in an otherwise concurring opinion.


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