Two days after New York’s Marriage Equality Act went into effect conservative groups and religious leaders filed a lawsuit against the Act challenging the legality of the same sex marriage law. The primary plaintiff, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom (NYCF), a New York based political lobbying organization founded by several pastors filed the complaint in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the county of Livingston, on Monday July 25th, 2011. Other plaintiffs noted in the lawsuit includes Reverend Jason J. McGuire, NYCF lobbyist Duane R. Motley and Rabbi Nathaniel S. Leiter, director of Torah Jews for Decency. The named defendants are the New York State Senate, the New York Department of Health and the state’s attorney general.
NYCF’s executive director Reverend McGuire said,
“Today we are asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control state legislature,”
The group claims in the lawsuit that the law was passed through corrupt legislative procedure which should “render the entire Act a nullity” and the Act only became law as a result of:
- Meetings that violated New York State Open Meetings Laws
- The suspension of normal Senate voting procedure to prevent Senators who opposed the bill from speaking
- Failure to follow Senate procedures that require that a bill must be sent to appropriate committees prior to being placed before the full Senate for a vote.
- Unprecedented Senate lock-out by which lobbyists and the public were denied access to elected representatives
- The Governors violation of the constitutionally mandated three day review period before Legislature votes on a bill by unjustifiably issuing a message of necessity
- Promises by high profiled elected officials and Wall Street financiers to make large campaign contributions to Republican senators who switched their vote from opposing to supporting the Marriage Equality Act
- A private dinner between the Republican Senators and Governor Cuomo at the Governor’s mansion with the public and press excluded aimed at convincing Republican Senators to vote in favor of the bill.
Throughout the official lawsuit the plaintiffs make several references to the fact that the New York Senate has a Republican majority and that the Marriage Equality Act could not have passed without Republican support. It strongly implies that Republicans would never vote for such a law unless political pressure or in a sense, a bribe of large financial contributions to the Republicans officials who switched their vote to support the law were promised.
The lawsuit further states its objection to the fact that lobbyists were not given proper access to the Republican officials prior to the vote. The plaintiffs cite several occasions where they could not either in person or on the phone reach the Republican Senate members.
Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Governor Cuomo responded to the lawsuit by saying,
“The plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York. The suit is without merit.”
The intent of the lawsuit is to ban same sex marriages and “void any marriages that took place pursuant to the Act” The lawsuits credibility as being one which is solely focused on the possible obstruction of Senate protocol falls short with its inclusion of claiming:
“Immediate and irreparable harm will occur if injunctive relief is not granted insofar as couples will be “marrying” pursuant to a law that is invalid and ultimately, could result in the invalidation of those “marriages”
The lawsuit continues by saying:
“Immediate and irreparable harm will occur if injective relief is not granted insofar as New Yorkers will be subjective to a fundamental change in the marriage laws of New York without their constitutionally guaranteed right to participate in the deliberative process and to have a transparent deliberative process. “
The lawsuit, hiding behind an argument of accusations of unconstitutional proceedings, is nothing more than another attempt by anti-gay organizations to deny gay and lesbian couples from having an opportunity to be treated fairly and equal to their heterosexual counterparts. It is interesting that the lawsuit contains complaints about possible contribution donations since many of these antigay organizations spend a great deal of time fundraising to support specifically antigay candidates or to unseat candidates who vote in support of LGBTQ equality. It is rather hypocritical for any lobbying organization to display concern that elected officials are being influenced by others since the role of modern lobbyist is to do exactly what is being argued against in this lawsuit.
It is unfortunate that in this lawsuit New York Senate Republicans are being portrayed as a party that cannot be in support of LGBTQ equality. It is expected that other lawsuits will be brought up in the courts but as for now New York will continue performing legalized same sex marriages.