- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A lawsuit that seeks to overturn New York’s gay marriage law because of the way it was passed in the state Senate can proceed, but only on one charge, a Livingston County, N.Y., judge has ruled.

The court sees “a justiciable issue presented whether there was a violation of the Open Meeting Law,” New York Supreme Court Judge Robert B. Wiggins said in a Nov. 18 decision in New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms v. New York State Senate.

“There are not sufficient facts before the Court to determine the matter; thus the case shall proceed on this issue,” said Judge Wiggins, who dismissed the other complaints.

“This is a victory for the people of New York and a setback to the political arm-twisters who tried to thwart the open-meetings process,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said Tuesday. Evidence will show that there were “defiant violations” of the law when same-sex marriage was passed, he said.

Liberty Counsel attorney Rena Lindevaldsen is representing New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and three plaintiffs who are leaders of religious or traditional-values organizations.

The suit names the New York State Senate and New York State Department of Health as defendants. State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman initially was named as a defendant, but was dismissed by Judge Wiggins.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Schneiderman’s office said it was reviewing the decision.

The lawsuit was filed in July, shortly after the Marriage Equality Act went into effect. The law was enacted in June after a handful of Republican state senators switched their votes under heavy politicking by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and others.

In their lawsuit, the traditional-values leaders argued that Mr. Cuomo misused his power as governor to demand an immediate vote on gay marriage, and that lawmakers illegally used closed meetings to pressure lawmakers to change their votes.

Judge Wiggins agreed to hear more about the meetings, but “reluctantly” noted he could not nullify Mr. Cuomo’s forced vote since the state Senate agreed to it. Still, the judge chastised the defense attorneys for “passionately spew[ing] sanctimonious verbiage on the separation of powers” when “clear arm-twisting by the Executive on the Legislative permeates this entire process.”

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