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N.Y. high court declines to hear appeal challenging same-sex marriage law

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
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ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York state Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal by the conservative group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, who were seeking to have New York’s same-sex marriage law overturned.

The conservative group had sued the state’s Senate over the law, alleging that Republican lawmakers violated New York’s open meetings law when they gathered in a private, closed door session last year to discuss the measure with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A state Supreme Court judge had ruled that New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms suit could move forward, however, an appellate court earlier this year ruled unanimously that the Senate lawmakers had adhered to the open meetings Law. (The law has an exemption for closed-door meetings among political conferences.)

New York statutes specify that plaintiff(s) must ask permission to launch further appeal to the highest court if the Appellate ruling isn’t split.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who led efforts to ensure passage of the same-sex measure last year in the legislature with bi-partisan agreement between lawmakers, said Tuesday:

“Today, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State, denied leave to appeal the validity of the Marriage Equality Act, which affords same-sex couples in this State the right to marry.

“New York State has served as a beacon for progressive ideals and this statute is a clear reminder of what this State stands for: equality and justice for all. With the Court’s decision, same-sex couples no longer have to worry that their right to marry could be legally challenged in this State.

“The freedom to marry in this State is secure for generations to come.”

Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said he was “disappointed” by the court’s decision.

“Essentially we now have a court that says that they are going to not serve their proper role of a check and balance on a Legislature that has gone rogue. That’s a concern,” said McGuire.

Legal analysts in New York’s capital city think that the court’s refusal to hear the appeal will most likely be the end of the suit.

McGuire pointed out that although his group’s suit sought to overturn the the same-sex marriage law on procedural grounds rather than constitutional grounds, he left open for the possibility for lawsuits challenging the same-sex marriage law on constitutional grounds “will begin to crop up.”

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