New York's highest court said Tuesday that it will not hear a challenge to the state's Marriage Equality Act (MEA) [text, PDF], effectively dispelling the last viable threat to same sex marriages in the state. The New York Court of Appeals [official website] announced it will not hear [order list, PDF] a challenge to the law brought by the conservative group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) [advocacy group]. NYCF had challenged the law by claiming that closed-door meetings between gay rights advocates and state senators were contrary to the state's Open Meetings Law (OML) [text]. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] issued a statement welcoming [text] the court's decision:
New York State has served as a beacon for progressive ideals and this statute is a clear reminder of what this State stands for: equality and justice for all. 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. The freedom to marry in this State is secure for generations to come.The procedural challenge to the law had already been dismissed [opinion, PDF] by the lower New York Fourth Appellate Division for the Supreme Court [official website] in June [JURIST report].
This is the latest development in the ongoing same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] debate. Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text], which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last month the US Department of Justice filed petitions in the US Supreme Court asking it to consider two additional challenges to DOMA [JURIST report]. In July a lesbian couple filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California in a DOMA challenge that seeks to achieve for gay and lesbian couples the same federal immigration rights afforded to heterosexual couples [JURIST report] under the Immigration and Nationality Act [materials].