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Gays and Lesbians Declared Family Under Rent Regulations;
Court Upholds New York State Rules
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 1990
In a victory that continues the move toward increased
recognition of lesbian and gay relationships, new state
regulations that broaden the definition of family have been
upheld by an appellate court in New York.
The new regulations guarantee that surviving family members --
including surviving gay life partners -- cannot be evicted from
New York's one million rent-stabilized apartments upon the death
or departure of the tenant of record.
"Lesbian and gay tenants, as well as other non-traditional
family members, can now rest easier," said William B. Rubenstein,
the Director of the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights
Project. The ACLU and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
represent Gay Men's Health Crisis and two gay tenants in the
"We now have security against eviction when our partners
depart," Rubenstein said. "Our relationships are finally being
recognized and our apartments being seen as family homes."
In July 1989, New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals,
ruled in a case brought by the ACLU that two gay men who had
lived together for 10 years could be considered a family and that
surviving gay life partners could not be evicted from the state's
160,000 rent-controlled apartments.
Following the decision, the New York State Division of Housing
and Community Renewal issued regulations extending the Court's
decision to the state's vast stock of rent-stabilized apartments.
Several landlords challenged those regulations in court.
The state's new regulations, the unanimous appellate court
ruled, do not conflict with New York's real property laws nor
with its constitution.
"By responding to the continuing shortage of low- and middle-
income housing units available," the court said, "the rise in
instances of individuals 'doubling up' and tenants being forced
into a homeless situation due to unaffordable rents, the
regulations clearly comport with the broad mandate provided the
Division of Housing and Community Renewal by the Legislature to
'protect tenants and the public interest.'"
The ACLU's Rubenstein said the new regulations are the first in
the country in which a statewide government has defined family in
such a broad, meaningful and realistic manner.