A New York state appeals court has thrown out a suit challenging the legality of the process by which marriage equality was passed into law by the state’s Senate last year.
The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Rochester said in a 5-0 decision that closed-door negotiations between Republican senators and campaigners for the bill, including Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, did not violate the state’s Open Meetings Law. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group representing evangelical Protestants that lobbied against the measure’s passage in Albany, filed the suit last year on July 25, one day after the new law took effect.
“Today the New York State Appellate Court, Fourth Department upheld New York’s Marriage Equality Act, which ensures that marriage is available to all New York couples regardless of sexual orientation,” said Cuomo in a statement. “This law was passed by both houses of the legislature and signed into law in June 2011. 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.”
In November, Supreme Court Judge Robert Wiggins in Livingston County ruled that the case could proceed. His opinion raised eyebrows for its declarative language that there had been “clear” arm-twisting in order to pass the law–something the state’s administration strongly denied.
Religious right groups had charged that the way in which a vote on the law had been brought about, and also the closed door discussions between Governor Cuomo and Republican legislators, violated New York’s Open Meetings Law which requires the public be allowed access to discussions during the legislative process.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, the state group behind the lawsuit, has indicated that it is assessing its legal options. It could appeal the ruling, however this week’s unanimous verdict would seem to set a high barrier against further action.