New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) and Torah Jews for Decency (TJD) [advocacy websites] filed a complaint [text, PDF] on Monday challenging the Marriage Equality Act [A8354-2011 materials], which allows same-sex couples to marry in the state. The plaintiffs argue, among other claims, that the law was enacted in violation of the New York State Open Meetings Laws [text], that the Senate failed to follow voting procedures and that the Senate conducted lock-outs that denied access to lobbyists and elected representatives. Executive Director at NYCF Rev. Jason McGuire contends that the courts must ensure the lawmakers were not acting unlawfully:
Constitutional liberties were violated. Today we are asking the court to intervene in its rightful role as the check and balance on an out-of-control State Legislature. It is unfortunate that state senators chose to protect their personal interests, rather than the people they were elected to represent. Some of the players may have changed, but it looks like same old Albany game. It is time the curtain be pulled back and the disinfecting light of good government shine upon the Cuomo Administration and our State Legislature.The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief.
The challenge comes just one day after New York began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and one month after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) [official website] signed the legislation into law. The New York State Assembly had passed same-sex marriage bills before in 2007 and in 2009, but the bills were unable to pass the Senate [JURIST reports]. Before the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, New York recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states. Earlier this year, the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department [official website] upheld a lower court decision [JURIST reports] allowing the surviving spouse of a same-sex marriage legally performed in Canada to inherit the deceased spouse's estate. With the legislation, New York becomes the seventh US jurisdiction to allow same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is also legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia [JURIST reports].