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October 25, 2012

Court correct to uphold marriage law

It has been 15 months since New York state’s law legalizing same-sex marriages went into effect. Getting the bill through the Legislature took years of spadework and arm-twisting, and was accomplished with near-unanimous Democratic Party support and the courageous votes of four Republicans in the state Senate.

We have previously expressed regret in these columns that our local state senator, James Seward, was not among the four Republicans who put their political careers on the line in order to be on the right side of history.

Seward, in a conversation Tuesday with this newspaper’s editorial board, defended his “nay” vote by stating it reflected both his personal views and what he judged were those of his constituents. He said he did not regret opposing the law.

Still, when asked if “traditional marriage” had suffered any harm since the day the law went into effect, Seward smiled.

“Well,” he said, “the sun came up the next day.”

It was a tacit and generous admission that Seward had not seen any deleterious effect from the law on heterosexual married couples.

Would that everyone would be so gracious. A conservative group, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, brought a lawsuit that tried to restrict the rights of gay couples by virtue of a technicality.

The group claimed that because Senate Republicans held two closed-door meetings before the vote — one with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the other with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — that the law should be overturned.

In July of this year, an appeals court unanimously ruled against the lawsuit, and the Constitutional Freedoms group then took its case to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Thankfully, on Tuesday that court rejected the motion without explanation, refusing to hear the case and thus killing the only serious legal challenge to the law.

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