Anti-Gay Lawsuit Opposing New York Marriage Equality Will Be Allowed To Proceed

It wasn’t a big surprise when some anti-gay groups, like NOM and the misleadingly-named New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, sought to oppose marriage equality in New York when it first passed. Apparently uninterested in the irony of the fact that Prop 8 was in fact declared in violation of constitutional values when it had its “day in court,” New Yorks for Constitutional Freedoms claimed that “constitutional liberties were violated,” and filed a lawsuit to that effect. Specifically, they claimed that the process by which the law was brought into effect was against the Open Meetings law of New York.

What’s a little more surprising is that their lawsuit is actually being entertained. A New York State Supreme Court justice has decided that the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed, and that its claims that “the Republican senate conference and elected officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo held meetings in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Laws, financial support was promised to win Republican votes, the bill bypassed senate committees, and the governor unjustifiably issued a message of necessity to expedite the vote and avoid the normal three-day waiting period for a bill” will be decided in court. This is a big turnaround from when the lawsuit was originally introduced in July, and a spokesman for the governor declared that “the plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the State of New York.” If New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms wins their suit, all marriages performed in New York since marriage equality was legalized will become null.

The Open Meetings Law of New York functions to provide the public with access to various meetings of government officials at both the state and local level. The plaintiffs’ allegations include that meetings between Governor Cuomo and the senate Republican caucus should have been subject to public viewing under this law, and their failure to do so constitutes a breach of acceptable protocol for passing legislature.  The Citizen Media Law Project says that the definition “meeting” according to the OML is “the official convening of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business, including the use of videoconferencing for attendance and participation by the members of the public body.” Does the Republican caucus and governor constitute a “public body?” Apparently we’ll find out in court.

Another issue that both New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the judge who’s allowing this lawsuit to proceed, Judge Robert Wiggins, are concerned with is the fact that Governor Cuomo moved to expedite the vote on marriage equality, bypassing a normally required three-day waiting period. Cuomo’s rush to pass the bill appears to have been based in a genuine desire to give the LGBT community its due; at the time, he “cited the “long overdue” right of same-sex couples to enter into marriages in New York” as his reasoning for avoiding the waiting period. But Judge Wiggins appears to feel differently:

“Logically and clearly this cite by the Governor is disingenuous,” wrote Wiggins. “The review of such concept altering legislation for three days after generations of existing definitions would not so damage same-sex couples as to necessitate an avoidance of rules meant to ensure full review and discussion prior to any vote. Nonetheless, this Court is reluctantly obliged to rule that that the message of necessity submitted by the Governor was accepted by vote of the Senate, and is NOT within this Court’s province to nullify.”

If it sounds like Wiggins does not necessarily feel positively about some of Governor Cuomo’s decisions in this department, you are not mistaken; Wiggins also said that “It is ironic that much of the state’s brief passionately spews sanctimonious verbiage on the separation of powers in the governmental branches, and clear arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates this entire process.”

Joe My God reports that the case also involves lawyer Rena Lindvaldsen, who belongs to Liberty Counsel, an organization that exists to “[advance] religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family… by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics” and which has been accused of ties to ex-gay fugitive Lisa Miller.

The case is being argued by Liberty Counsel attorney Rena Lindvaldsen, the author of Only One Mommy, a book that tells the story of an “ex-gay” mom who kidnapped her daughter to Central America in order to defy multiple court orders to share custody with her former partner. The FBI has investigated the Liberty Counsel for their possible complicity in the kidnapping as the child was found to be living in a home owned by the parent of a Liberty Counsel employee.

The fact that the case has been allowed to proceed doesn’t in any way guarantee that the plaintiffs will win; if it is passed, however, it could be even worse news for New York than Prop 8 was for California, in that the marriages which are now legal would be nullified. Then again, even as this lawsuit moves forward, so do the group of lawsuits against DOMA, as well as Prop 8’s potential progress towards the Supreme Court. The lawsuit in New York is only one facet of the complicated moment for marriage equality and American history. Right now, we don’t have many options except waiting to see how the courts choose to deal with the issue — and hope that they come up with something that allows us to keep our families together.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.

14 Comments

  1. Damn these people/organizations are as determined as cockroaches after a nuclear bomb. It’s just ridiculous. Gays can’t be happy, can’t find happiness with each other through a word. What’s up with this whole ‘marriage’ deal? Everything but the thing; civil unions people seem to be generally okay with. I don’t get it.

    I mean I get that they’re often religious and that they have a personal relationship with that religion that spurs them to act in such a way that I will just never understand. It makes me sad & frustrates me to no end.

  2. I just can’t wrap my head around what the point of all this bullshit is. Same-sex marriage has been allowed for, what, 4 months now? The world has not imploded. Filing to undo all of that will waste millions of dollars, and for what? To protect the “sanctity of traditional marriage”?? Oh, wait, no, these assholes are playing dirty by looking for legal loopholes to re-assert their homophobic beliefs on a city where most people don’t object. FUCK. OFF.

  3. If this isn’t reason enough to destroy Christianity I don’t know what is. We don’t live in a tolerant society anymore, gay people. These intrusive, vile, bible thumping zealots seek to annihilate your marriage, repeal your right to get married, and prevent you from getting it back. It is time to go for their jugular. These pious bastards deserve hell on earth!

      • I fully agree. Matchfull hate-based crusades that are benifiting from softer rheteric, with more blatently hatefull rheteric is only working to the advantages of those who oppose gay freedom. They really want the general public to believe that anyone who is Christian is someone how the really victim of gay bullys and the awefull statment abouve is just what they’d want the general public to hear. The idea you can destroy religous identity is as outragous and absurd as assuming you can eliminate sexual idenity. Only problem is, the later idea has far more supporters! That doesn’t mean those hostile force make up the majority of Christans, even is Christian is the religious identity of most Americans!

  4. I fully agree. Matching hate-based crusades that are benifiting from softer rheteric, with more blatently hatefull rheteric is only working to the advantages of those who oppose gay freedom. They really want the general public to believe that anyone who is Christian is someone how the really victim of gay bullys and the awefull statment abouve is just what they’d want the general public to hear. The idea you can destroy religous identity is as outragous and absurd as assuming you can eliminate sexual idenity. Only problem is, the later idea has far more supporters! That doesn’t mean those hostile force make up the majority of Christans, even is Christian is the religious identity of most Americans!

  5. Pingback: NY judge lets anti-gay marriage lawsuit proceed – Wall Street Journal | Down Town Bride

  6. Assuming the explanation of the Open Meetings Law on the link is accurate, I cannot fathom how the Senate Republican Caucus could be classed as a “public body.” And the other stuff about promises of support and funding in return for votes that they’re complaining about it is how politics works everywhere, anywhere, and is practised by every party and interest group, including the NoM yahoo’s. I can only think this judge has a personal axe to grind, his quoted statement seems to indicate it. Very worrying.

  7. It just really pisses me off. Occupiers of Wallstreet get pepper sprayed and beaten and bring no violence to anyone whatsoever and all these protestors do is cause hate and unhappiness. It’s ridiculous.

    Why can’t we just be happy? But, alas, it’s just another step in civil rights. Indians. Immigrants. Blacks. We’re still trying to fight this war. People just need to stop fucking CARING and let us love and be happy and be equal.

    People care way too damn much. Just let us love. They cannot take it back. It was one step closer and they already took the rights from California. New York was a BIG one. This is bullshit.

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