An anti-gay group requested today that New York's highest court review a lower court's decision to dismiss their lawsuit against the state's marriage equality law.
Among other things, Liberty Counsel contends that the state's open meeting law, which requires public access to the deliberations of legislative bodies, was violated during closed-door negotiations between marriage equality supporters and state senators. As such, the law granting same-sex couples the right to marry in New York should be scraped completely.
Previously, the group accused Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of violating New York law when he declared an emergency last year, allowing him to bypass a state law that requires bills be printed in their final form and on the desks of legislators three days prior to vote. Only in the event of an emergency can this rule be broken, which Cuomo said existed every day same-sex couples were deprived of their right to marry.
After marriage equality was signed into law in June 2011, Liberty Counsel took their case to court. Although the state urged the court to dismiss the case, a judge ordered the case to trial on the basis of the open meeting violation complaint, stating, "clear arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates this entire process."
However, last month the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Rochester ruled unanimously to dismiss the case, ruling that the meetings between Republican senators and advocates for the bill, which included Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, were lawful.
"In the event that we were to adopt plaintiffs' limited definition of 'guests,' it would be impossible for a Democratic member of a governor's office, such as a budget director, to speak to a majority Republican caucus," read the decision.
The marriage equality bill narrowly passed the Republican-controlled Senate with support from four Republicans.
Now Liberty Counsel has asked the New York State Court of Appeals to consider the case. The group, which is well known for their anti-gay rhetoric, says "the remedy sought is the voiding of the law."
In a statement, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel argued again that "arm-twisting and closed-door meetings used to pass this law redefining marriage violated the open meetings requirements" and that the legislative process must be transparent.
"When government operates in secret and freezes out the very people it is supposed to represent, the entire system fails," Mathew Staver said. "The law should be set aside, and the process should begin again to allow the people a voice in the process."
[Photo: Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Coutesy of ny.gov.)]