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A pro-family lobbying organization in New York is challenging the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage, claiming improper procedure and back-room payoffs should render the law “null and void.”
In a lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, officers of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms argue that the state’s Marriage Equality Act was passed only with the help of suspended voting rules, shady campaign contributions and a violation of the New York State Open Meeting Laws.
“In what many are heralding as a big step forward for gay rights,” the lawsuit charges, “others are questioning whether the corrupt legislative process by which the Act passed renders the entire Act a nullity.”
Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo, blasted the suit as “without merit,” but Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, disagrees.
“Back room tactics were rampant in the passage of this law,” Staver wrote in a statement announcing Liberty Counsel’s assistance in the filing of the suit. “New York law requires that the government be open and transparent to keep political officials responsible. When government operates in secret and freezes out the very people it is supposed to represent, the entire system fails. … The law should be set aside and the process should begin again to allow the people a voice in the process.”
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges the Act became law through:
- Meetings that violated the state’s open meeting laws, including a closed-door gathering reported by the New York Times in which billionaire and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lobbied with Republicans to vote for the Act;
- The suspension of normal Senate voting procedures to prevent senators 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;
- Governor Cuomo’s violation of a constitutionally mandated three-day review period before the Legislature votes on a bill by issuing a “message of necessity”;
- A private dinner with Republican senators at the governor’s mansion, with the public and press excluded, in which Governor Cuomo attempted to persuade passage of the Act;
- Fulfilled promises by elected officials and Wall Street financiers to make large campaign contributions to Republican senators who switched their vote from opposing to supporting the Act.
The New York Daily News reported that Bloomberg, indeed, contributed over $10,000 apiece to the campaigns of four Republican senators who voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Βloomberg aide Micah Leaher told the paper, “The mayor said he would support Senate Republicans who stood up – and he did.”
“It is unfortunate that state senators chose to protect their personal interests, rather than the people they were elected to represent,” said Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Consitutional Freedoms, in a statement. “Some of the players may have changed, but it looks like same old Albany game. It is time the curtain be pulled back and the disinfecting light of good government shine upon the Cuomo administration and our state Legislature.”