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Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Mull Legal, Political Challenges if Bill Passes

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Many opposed to the same-sex marriage bill being discussed in Albany say it's impossible to predict what specific legal challenges would surface if gay marriage passed in the state — but legal and political ramifications are likely, experts said.

Republicans are working to refine the wording on religious exemptions, and since the language of the bill has yet to be finalized it's difficult to map out an action plan in the event the Albany says "I do" to legalizing same-sex marriages after days of wrangling.

"There may be potential challenges in terms of religious liberty," said Dennis Poust of the New York State Catholic Conference, "but that will come up based on the final language of the bill. It's impossible to predict right now what kind of litigation there may be."

Those opposed to same-sex marriage say they are concerned that religious individuals or organizations that aren't covered by the bill's current exemptions will be slapped with lawsuits if they refuse to provide services or facilities for same-sex marriages. Protections for these religious groups is the final issue being discussed. 

The current bill – introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo last Tuesday – prohibits civil claims against any "benevolent organization" or "religious corporation" that refuses to provide "accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges" in connection with same-sex marriages.  

Poust said if the bill passes, he expects lawsuits against Catholic organizations that do not fit into those categories under state law.

It is currently illegal for a business to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in providing services or facilities, under New York's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination (SONDA) of 2003. But state law already allows an exemption for religious institutions and benevolent organizations.

"The bill doesn't add anything, but its language just makes it clear that it wasn't unintentionally amending prior law,” said Michael Dorf, a professor of law at Cornell University.

Dorf said any attempt to provide religious exemptions to private individuals would essentially represent a partial repeal of SONDA because private individuals — such as a florist who refuses to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, or a caterer who doesn’t want to cook for a same-sex wedding reception— are not currently exempted under that law.

In 2006, the New York State Court of Appeals decided that there was no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but did indicate that the legislature was free to change the law.   

Advocates say they have already begun mobilizing to mount political challenges against the bill's Republican supporters.  

"I think the only option for us is clean house with the legislature," said Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.  

Motley says "credible candidates" have already come forward to pledge they will run against Jim Alesi of Rochester and Roy McDonald of Saratoga in the next primaries — were the first two Senate Republicans to announce their support of the measure.  

Mike Long, who heads the state conservative party, has vowed he will yank support from all Republicans who vote yes on same-sex marriage.  

"I can assure you that as we look towards the election process in 2012, there will be ramifications," said Jason McGuire, executive director orf New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. "Already people are popping up and asking, 'What can we do?'"

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Comments [7]

Arturo from New York from NSW

Do Republicans really think that a gay couple would even want to rent a Knights of Columbus hall for a reception?
http://www.osymbilgi.com/
It is highly doubtful that gay couples would choose a "Republican florist" or the like. Blather and obstructionism.

Jan. 25 2012 04:53 AM
mike

It is not blather and obstructionism. NY is made up of many different ethnicities, some very old school.

How about a Muslim florist? Or a Muslim-owned catering hall? New World Muslims might want to practice same sex marriage while Old World want nothing to do with it yet someone will demand service for their marriage whether it is agreed to or not.
http://www.filmdiziseyret.gen.tr/
There are many scenarios like this. Change by the smallest percentage of vocal "victims" is being forced upon society as a whole. It is irrational at best.

Oct. 07 2011 04:34 AM
Dr.Janice Colwell from Bryan, Texas

Christians cannot in good conscience support "wedding" or related services for those engaged in sodomy, period. The Bible calls homosexual conduct an "abomination" to God. It is against God's and nature's design. When two men or women can procreate a child instead of a disease, however, we will know that God has changed his mind. We must speak the truth in love, but still the truth. That only heterosexual conduct is blessed is one of those self-evident truths our founders wrote about.

Jun. 25 2011 03:22 AM
Kelly

Should a florist be able to refuse service to an African American because he hates African Americans? No. Should a florist be able to refuse service to women because he hates women? No. Should a florist be able to refuse service to a mormon because he hates mormons? No. That is just plain stupid. Business owners shouldn't be able to discriminate against customers based on their ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Providing flowers for a gay wedding does not substantially infringe on the exercise of another persons religion. The position that business owners can refuse service to a person based on their religious convictions is ludicrous. The religious community should think about the effect that could have on themselves. In short, I do not begrudge religious people their convictions, but it infuriates me when they seek to deny others rights simply because they do not like it. We have convictions too, and they should not be trampled on for the sake of your delicate sensibilities.

Jun. 23 2011 04:29 PM
Arturo from New York

Ed from NYC,

You keep blathering about what a small percentage of the population LGBT folks are as if that should make ANY difference in a civil rights discussion. Our Constitution's Bill of Rights is designed to protect citizens from undue interference by our government. It doesn't matter if you are of Thai or Cambodian or Polynesian descent (also tiny percentages of our population). What matters is that you are granted these rights under the Constitution. As to the religiously-justified invidious discrimination you seem to be so fond of, the Courts and our society have decided that allowing people to discriminate against others based on aspects of their identity is corrosive to our democracy. Discrimination is fundamentally irrational. Fighting for equal treatment and justice is not.

Jun. 23 2011 01:28 PM
Ed from NYC

To Richard T. Nolan:

It is not blather and obstructionism. NY is made up of many different ethnicities, some very old school.

How about a Muslim florist? Or a Muslim-owned catering hall? New World Muslims might want to practice same sex marriage while Old World want nothing to do with it yet someone will demand service for their marriage whether it is agreed to or not.

There are many scenarios like this. Change by the smallest percentage of vocal "victims" is being forced upon society as a whole. It is irrational at best.

Jun. 23 2011 05:29 AM
Richard T. Nolan from Pompano Beach, FL

Do Republicans really think that a gay couple would even want to rent a Knights of Columbus hall for a reception? It is highly doubtful that gay couples would choose a "Republican florist" or the like. Blather and obstructionism.

Jun. 22 2011 07:03 PM

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