New York same sex marriage law challenged on technical grounds

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July 26, 2011

New York

Albany, NY: A day after same-sex couples were first granted the right to legally marry in New York by the Marriage Equality Act, gay rights groups across the country celebrated. Opponents filed a lawsuit with the state supreme court.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, along with three individuals, brought the suit against the New York State Senate, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and the New York State Department of Health. In the suit, the plaintiffs, represented by Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, seek to "preserve not only marriage as the union of one woman to one man, but also our constitutional liberties by acting as a check on an out-of-control political process that was willing to pass a bill regardless of how many laws and rules it violated."[1]

They allege the law was passed as a result of a combination of factors, from senate meetings that violated New York State Open Meeting Laws to promises of campaign contributions for Republican senators who changed their vote. The suit also cites atypical procedures in the Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo's waiving the constitutionally required three-day review period before a legislative vote, lobbyists and the general public being denied access to representatives, and private dinners at the Governor's mansion.[1]

Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, expressed his concern that constitutional liberties had been violated, explaining that the lawsuit is "asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control state legislature."[2] Spokespeople for the Senate majority leader and the attorney general declined to comment on the lawsuit, but Governor Cuomo's spokesman Josh Vlasto said "the plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York. The suit is without merit."[3]

The bill in question passed the Senate by a vote of 33-29, making New York the 6th U.S. state to legalize marriages between gay couples. In New York city alone, 659 marriage licenses for same-sex couples were issued on Sunday. That same day, the cities of Rochester and Binghamton reported issuing 39 and 18 licenses, respectively.[3][4]

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