Same-sex lawsuit nothing but 'a case of sour grapes,' gay rights advocates say
|New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg marries two men following the passage of New York’s same-sex marriage law this year. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is trying to get a lawsuit filed by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms against the Marriage Equality Act dismissed. LGBT advocacy groups have scoffed at the lawsuit, one calling it “the most frivolous lawsuit I have ever seen.” Photo by The New York City Mayor’s Office.|
September 26, 2011Same-sex marriage and LGBT advocates are confident that Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman will be successful in getting dismissed a lawsuit filed by opponents of the Marriage Equality Act on July 25, a day after the bill was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Schneiderman filed papers to try to get the case New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms et al. v. New York State Senate et al. dismissed last Friday. He has requested a hearing in Livingston County Court for Oct. 17.
Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the hearing will likely be after Oct. 17, closer to the end of the month.
|The Rev. Jason McGuire, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging same-sex marriage, iis pictured with Sen. Ruben Diaz. McGuire said he is looking forward to his day in court Photo by The New York City Mayor’s Office.|
McGuire said he is looking forward to his day in court and the opportunity to speak out against "the shady process" under which the Marriage Equality Act was passed. There have been no new developments in the case since the attorney general filed a request to dismiss the case on Sept. 16, according to McGuire. "We're waiting at this point and working out the details."
The other two plaintiffs in the suit are Executive Director of Torah Jews for Decency Rabbi Nathaniel S. Leiter and Rev. Duane Motley, New Yorker's Family Research Foundation's founder and senior lobbyist with New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.
Sarah Warbelow, state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign, said the plaintiffs and their organizations, "Have not shown that they've been harmed in any way either by the law itself or by their inability, as they claim, to be a part of the process ... because the Senate ... made a lot of decisions behind closed doors but that's very typical in all legislative processes."
Warbelow is "certainly not" concerned that the law could be overturned on the grounds on which the lawsuit was filed. If the case is not dismissed in Livingston County Court, it will likely be dismissed in a subsequent court, Warbelow said. "They're making a last ditch attempt at dismissing a law that's already gone into effect and has no bearing on their lives."
While Warbelow and the Human Rights Campaign expected a lawsuit in response to the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, they did not expect one to be filed so soon, she said. The way the law was written made it likely a lawsuit like the one that was filed would arise, she said.
"The bill has a clause at the end that essentially says if any part of this law is found to be unconstitutional, the entire bill is null and void. That's not typical ... Most bills have what we call a severability clause which means if (there is something wrong with) any part of the bill, the court can strike down just that section and leave the rest of the bill intact."
The groups suing the state "truly do not have a standing," Warbelow said.
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, agrees. "This is the most frivolous lawsuit I've ever seen. I think ... they know it (will be dismissed), they're putting on a show in order to raise money from their followers and the case is obviously in very good hands with the attorney general."
Wolfson said the suit is simply a last measure by "anti-gay(s)" to invalidate the law. "I know that the anti-gay forces are as desperate as they can to throw up as much dust as possible but the people of New York wanted this law. Families are rejoicing in the celebration of marriage and no one has lost anything," Wolfson said.
State Chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans, Gregory T. Angelo, said his organization is also not worried the suit will reverse the progress for equal rights.
"I can't say that I'm surprised" the suit was filed so soon after the law passed, Angelo said. "I can certainly say I'm disappointed. Right now we have gays and lesbians that have equal rights in terms of civil marriage. No one has encroached upon anyone's religious freedoms, as the attorney general's response says, the law has harmed no one. It has only granted equal rights to those who didn't have them before. It didn't take any rights away from anyone.
"This is one of the few instances in which Log Cabin Republicans actually agrees with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the points that he brings up in his opposition to this lawsuit are all valid and I see this lawsuit also as being a blip on the screen that was filed by people who are really suffering from a case of sour grapes more than anything else," Angelo said.