Friday, June 24, 2011

NY Judge: Falsely Labeling Someone Homosexual Libel Per Se

Map of New York highlighting Broome CountyImage via WikipediaEvolving social mores are clashing head-on with legal precedent in New York, as illustrated by the state's Legislature debating legalizing same-sex marriage at the same time Broome County Supreme Court Justice Phillip R. Rumsey this week denied a summary judgment motion to dismiss a defamation suit in which the underlying alleged libelous statement involved imputing that an individual was gay.

As reported in The New York Law Journal, in the case of Yonaty v. Mincolla (Case No. 1003-2009), Justice Rumsey ruled imputing homosexuality to an individual constitutes libel per se.  Mark Yonaty, who denies being gay, has sued Jean Mincolla, alleging his betrothed broke off their engagement after she was advised that he was gay or bisexual. Mincolla then sued Ruthanne Koffman, who allegedly repeated the allegation to the plaintiff's girl friend's mother, according to the Journal article. 

Acknowledging changing societal perceptions about homosexual conduct, which long ago was against the law in New York, Justice Rumsey nonetheless said he was bound by legal precedent and the ample body of New York case law that holds false accusations of homosexuality rise to the level of defamation per se.

The Court of Appeals, the Empire State's highest court, declared New York's sodomy law unconstitutional in 1980, but has yet to weigh in on the question of whether imputing sexual orientation to an individual should be grounds for a defamation action.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment