Court of Appeals
Same sex marriage challenge falters
The case of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms v. New York State Senate will not be heard, by a decision of the state Appellate Division court. On Friday, July 6, the court upheld a New York State motion to dismiss the case.
In the state’s first challenge to same-sex marriage recognition, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms filed suit against the New York State Senate last summer, claiming that meetings between State Senate Republicans and Democratic Governor Cuomo and New York Mayor Bloomberg — held in May and June of 2011 on the eve of the law’s approval — were illegally closed to the public. Specifically, two NYCF lobbyists, Rev. Duane Motley and Rabbi Nathaniel Leiter, were barred from the meetings. In its suit, NYCF contended that, in so barring the public for the purpose of enacting the same-sex marriage legislation, the State Senate broke its own rules and state law.
The case was initially heard in Livingston County by Acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Wiggins, due to the fact that Jason McGuire, Executive Director for NYCF and a plaintiff in the suit, is a resident of Lima.
A motion by the Office of the State Attorney General to dismiss the case was denied by Judge Wiggins, who ostensibly was willing to have the case heard in his court.
However, a second appeal by state government was heard last month in the Fourth Department, Appellate Division in Rochester. Explaining the court’s decision to dismiss the NYCF suit, Justice Eugene Fahey wrote that there are no provisions in state law “suggest[ing] that members of a political caucus cannot entertain a guest from a different political party.”
NYCF may be considering an appeal of the Appellate Division decision.
In a recent press release, McGuire stated, “I will sit down with Rena Lindevaldsen and the rest of our attorneys at the Liberty Counsel, review the Appellate Division decision and weigh our legal options moving forward. The integrity of our legislative process is at stake — and it is worth defending.”
New York is among seven states in the nation to have recognized same-sex marriage.