The New York Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of banning gay ''marriages'' in the state on May 31.
The case involves five homosexual couples from Manhattan who were denied marriage licenses in New York City. Gay rights activists have already lost twice at the appellate level but the Court of Appeals makes the final decision on the legality of such unions in the state.
New York, unlike a growing number of states, has not passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman only. To date, 19 states have passed such amendments.
Christian conservatives have rallied for the passage of a traditional marriage amendment at the federal level since Massachusetts began granting marriage licenses to gay couples in 2004. Earlier this month, some of the top Washington-based Christian lobbying groups launched a joint effort to prompt Congress into passing legislation banning gay unions. The amendment needs a two-thirds support from both the Senate and House to pass, and also needs to be ratified by at least three-fourths of the states to become law.