A New York appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought against the state’s year-old marriage equality law, ruling that the state legislature did not violate open meetings rules while working toward a deal on the measure.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in Rochester unanimously ruled 5-0 against the plaintiffs, a religious group based in Spencerport, New York, who had asked the court to invalidate the law entirely. However the court not only found no wrong-doing by the legislature, but added that even had the law been passed following legally dubious lobbying efforts, they would not have considered that sufficient reason to strike it from the books.
“Accordingly, we conclude…that defendant New York State Senate did not violate [the Open Meeting Law] in enacting the [Marriage Equality Act], and that marriages performed thereunder are not invalid,” the court’s opinion reads.
Unlike other challenges to same-sex marriage laws that contend such policies infringe on others’ rights, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, the plaintiffs in this case, took issue with the way in which the bill was pushed through. Specifically, they argued that a private meeting between Governor Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state senators held before the bill’s passage qualified as public business, and so violated state law requiring that such meetings be held publicly. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman successfully argued that the challenge rested on an overly-broad interpretation of the open meetings law that would lead to a ridiculous standard for legislating.
“The court’s decision affirms that in our state, there is marriage equality for all, and with this decision, New York continues to stand as a progressive leader for the nation,” Cuomo said in a statement after the ruling.
NYCF’s website says of the organization that it, “exists to influence legislationand legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.” The group is deciding how to proceed following their loss in court, and have not ruled out pursuing further legal action.
“The truth is even liberal-leaning good government groups have had to admit that the process by which same-sex ‘marriage’ became law was a bad one,” NYCF’s Executive Director Rev. Jason J. McGuire said in a statement after the ruling. ”If we can’t trust elected leaders to play by the rules when they seek to pass legislation, then anything can pass against the will of the people – whether it be same-sex ‘marriage’ or a national health care initiative.”
The law was passed last June after weeks of intense debate and strong lobbying from Cuomo, who pressed to get the measure through before the end of the legislative session. New York is currently the largest state where same-sex marriage is legal.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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