New York’s top court refused today to hear a challenge to the state’s 2011 law legalizing same-sex marriage, ending the most prominent objection to the law.
The decision leaves intact the July ruling by a midlevel court, which concluded closed-door negotiations among senators and gay marriage supporters, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, did not violate any laws. The Court of Appeals, as is customary, did not explain why it wouldn’t take the case.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms claimed Cuomo and another gay marriage supporter, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, violated the state’s open meetings law when they met behind closed doors with the Senate’s Republican majority.
“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,” Cuomo said today. “The freedom to marry in this state is secure for generations to come.”
The law was given final legislative approval after weeks of intensive lobbying and swiftly signed by Cuomo, making New York the largest state to legalize same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples began marrying by the hundreds on July 24, 2011, the day the law became official.
Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group opposed to gay marriage, said that while this ends the case over what he still considers violations in process and procedures, efforts now will focus on two other approaches.
“First, there’s an election in two weeks, continuing the opportunity for the people of New York to vote on this issue,” McGuire said. He noted that Sen. Roy McDonald, one of four Republican state senators to vote for the bill, lost a primary election. “Every time the people have had a chance to vote on the issue, they have rejected same sex marriage,” he said.
The other issue is conflict with individuals’ constitutional rights to freedom of religion, including business people who don’t want to work on same-sex marriages, Maguire said.
“We’re going to see these cases cropping up. That is the next front on this,” he said.
McGuire said the case was “a heavy lift for court in light of the political monstrosity it has become. They just didn’t want to touch it.”
Cuomo said New York has “served as a beacon for progressive ideals” and the statute is a clear reminder the state stands for equality and justice for everyone.