Gays and lesbians can't get married in New York, but they can get an annulment.
A midlevel state appeals court has ruled that even though New York doesn't have a civil union law, its courts do have the power to annul a same-sex union made in another state.
The case involved two Schenectady County women who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2003, but separated three years later.
One went to Vermont to get the union annulled, but was told she needed to live there a year before she could apply.
The woman then asked a Schenectady court for an annulment, but the judge denied it.
The civil rights group Lambda Legal said the Appellate Division's decision Thursday to overturn that ruling will allow broken-up couples to move on with their lives.
Meanwhile, the New York-based Lamda Legal is assisting New Jersey gay rights advocates in their fight for the right to marry in the Garden State. After a stinging defeat of a gay marriage bill two months ago, advocates are appealing to the state's Supreme Court to override legislators' vote against gay marriage in favor of civil unions, saying the latter doesn't work.
In New York, state senators rejected in December a bill that would've legalized same-sex marriage in the Big Apple. While New York recognizes gay marriages performed legally in other states, gay and lesbian couples can neither marry nor get a civil union in the state.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in five states, including Vermont, which legalized same-sex unions in 2000 and gay marriage in 2009.