On Friday, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department dismissed a case challenging New York State’s same-sex marriage law. The case filed by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is the first legal challenge to the new same-sex marriage law of New York. The NYCF is an evangelical Christian group and they had argued that the behind-the-scenes lobbying that preceded the passage of the law was improper. The appeals court tossed out their arguments.
The group had alleged that Reverend Duane Motley, its senior lobbyist, ad co-plaintiff Nathaniel Leiter had been barred from the private meetings that took place before the law was passed. The group argued that by doing so the Senate’s Republican majority had violated the state Open Meetings Law in June 2011.
The alleged meeting happened with Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, behind closed doors. The NYCF held that the Open Meetings Law requires officials to conduct public business in public and provides exemptions only in the cases of “deliberations of political committees, conferences and caucuses.” This would necessarily involve like-minded lawmakers and the definition did not extend to the alleged meeting where the mayor of New York, the Governor of the state and the Republican majority of the Senate met together.
However, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department observed that nothing in the law “suggests that members of a political caucus cannot entertain a guest from a different political party.”
In 2011, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. The governor met with all 32 Senate Republicans at the executive mansion in Albany, 11 days before the Senate passed the bill. Bloomberg met with the majority at least twice in May and June.
Reacting to the decision of the appeals court, Reverend Jason McGuire, the executive director of NYCF said, “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.”
New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo released a statement saying that the ruling “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.”
New York is the largest state in U.S. to have legalized same-sex marriage.