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Court of Appeals Refuses To Hear Gay Marriage Appeal (UPDATED3X)
BY KEN LOVETT
New York’s top court today refused to hear an appeal challenging the state’s gay marriage law.
Without explanation, the Court of Appeals denied a request to appeal by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, an evangelical group.
UPDATE: “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,” Gov. Cuomo, who pushed for passage of the law last year, said in a statement. “The freedom to marry in this State is secure for generations to come.”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms had claimed the state Senate failed to follow proper procedure when it gave final passage last year to a bill allow same-sex couples to wed. Gov. Cuomo signed the bill into law.
The group argued that the Senate Republican majority violated the state open meetings law by meeting behind closed doors, including with Mayor Bloomberg, to discuss the issue.
A state appellate court in July unanimously reversed a lower court ruling and dismissed the case. Because the decision was unanimous, New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms needed permission from the state’s top court to continue its appeal, a request that was denied today.
“Obviously we’re disappointed in the Court of Appeals decision, but I wouldn’t’ say surprised,,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms.
“It’s a pretty liberal-leaning court,” McGuire said. “Every time the people had the chance to vote on the issue of marriage, they view it one way [against gay marriage]. But when it comes before rogue legislatures or the courts, they view it differently.”
McGuire said his group will now focus on a complaint brought with the state Division of Human Rights by a lesbian couple who were told by Liberty Ridge Farm near Albany they could not get married at the site because they were lesbians.
The owners of the site, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, are said to object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
McGuire said he believes the state religious freedoms exemptions in the gay marriage law does not go far enough and could be a violation of the US and state constitutions.
UPDATE 2: Erica Pelletreau, spokeswoman for the Empire State Pride Agenda, the largest gay advocacy group in New York, ripped gay marriage foes for trying to “throw anything at this law just to see if something sticks.”
“Nothing will,” Pelletreau said. “Nothing can stop the momentum for full equality that started right here in New York State.”
She added that “while extremists dabble around in the arcana of parliamentary procedure, they forget one thing: They are targeting real people and real families. But love has already won the day. Victory is ours.”
UPDATE3: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office handled the case for the state, praised today’s court decision. Here’s his statement.
“Today another barrier has been overcome in the struggle for full equality for gay and lesbian New Yorkers. The New York State Court of Appeals sided with my office in a rejecting a challenge to the Marriage Equality Act. With this ruling by our state’s highest court, same sex couples can now have peace of mind that this legal challenge to their marriages has been laid to rest. The struggle to secure federal recognition of all New York marriages continues, but today’s decision is an important victory for equal justice. My office will keep fighting every day to defend the fundamental guarantee of equal protection of the law for all New Yorkers.”