A New York judge declared Friday that a law prohibiting gay marriages violates the states constitution, opening the flood gates to legalized same-sex marriages in New York City, should the decision survive on appeal.
Contrary to rulings in three courts in New York recently where the states marriage laws were upheld, Judge Doris Ling-Cohan declared the same laws were unconstitutional and said the New York City clerk could not deny a marriage license to any couple solely on the grounds that they are of the same gender.
According to the Liberty Counsel, whose attorneys helped file an amicus brief in the case, Judge Cohan invented a fundamental right to choose one spouse, wrote that same-sex marriage "would cause harm to no one," that there is "no legitimate purpose, let alone a compelling interest" in the marriage laws, and ordered that "husband," "wife," "groom" and "bride" should now be construed as "spouse."
The decision has been stayed for 30 days to allow the city to determine whether it will appeal.
The city Law Department issued a statement saying only, "We are reviewing the decision thoroughly and considering our options."
Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena M. Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel, represented New York State Senators Diaz and Meier, State Assemblyman Hooker, the New York Family Policy Council and Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long in filing an amicus brief in the New York City case and will represent the same parties in an amicus brief on appeal.
Liberty Counsel initially sought to intervene to obtain full party status to defend the case by arguing that neither the city for the state attorneys were dedicated to aggressively defend the case, according to its statement, but judge Cohan denied the intervention. Nonetheless, Liberty Counsel was granted the right to file an amicus brief.
Following the Friday ruling, Mat Staver said he was very disappointed in the decision, particularly in light of the three other New York cases where traditional marriage was upheld.
We are disappointed in today's decision. Three other Supreme Court judges in New York have independently reviewed the laws and concluded, as they should, that the marriage laws are constitutional, said Staver. The State has an obvious interest in preserving traditional marriage and in promoting the best family arrangement - one with a mom and a dad - for our children and society.
Staver also said the decision shows the need for the passage of marriage amendments at both the state and federal levels.
Today's decision demonstrates the need for marriage amendments at the state and federal level. All it takes is one judge to throw the State's marriage laws into upheaval, said Staver. Judges should not be able to pull same-sex marriage out of a hat and force it on the American people.
Marriage is a fundamental basis of our society and we must do all that it takes to stabilize and preserve it. The people must have a voice in this most important social issue."
Since the ruling only applies to New York City, and several other judges have upheld the constitutionality of the state's marriage laws, lawyers and city officials expect the question will be settled at the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.