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Suit seeks to overturn N.Y. gay 'marriage' law

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
ALBANY, N.Y. (BP)--One day after a New York law legalizing same-sex "marriage" went into effect, a traditional group filed suit in state court seeking to overturn the law, claiming that the Senate violated the state constitution as well as open meetings laws in passing it.

The suit, filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, makes a series of allegations -- among them an alleged failure by the Senate to provide a constitutionally mandated three-day review period before passing the law. The constitution allows a bill to pass without such a review period if the governor issues a "message of necessity" -- which Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo did -- but Liberty Counsel says in its 14-page suit that "there was no pressing state need."

The suit was filed against the Republican-led Senate, the New York State Department of Health and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

The law passed the Senate June 24 in the final minutes of the legislative session. Both sides agree that it passed in a frenzy; they disagree whether state law was violated.

"New York law requires that the government be open and transparent to keep political officials responsible," Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. "When government operates in secret and freezes out the very people it is supposed to represent, the entire system fails. The back-room tactics were rampant in the passages of this law. The law should be set aside and the process should begin again to allow the people a voice in the process."

Among the other allegations:

-- closed meetings that violated New York's open meetings laws.

-- the suspension of Senate procedures to prevent those who opposed the bill from speaking.


-- failure to follow Senate procedures that require a bill must be sent to appropriate committees prior to being placed before the full Senate for a vote.

-- rule changes on the Senate floor to prevent debate on the bill.

The suit asks the court to overturn the law and void all marriage licenses that were issued to same-sex couples.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto told Bloomberg news service that the "plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York."

"The suit is without merit," Vlasto said.

Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, disagreed.

"Constitutional liberties were violated," McGuire said in a statement. "Today we are asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control State Legislature."

New York became the sixth state and easily the largest yet to redefine marriage.

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. The complaint can be read online at

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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