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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New York State

Continuing developments: An
anti-SSM referendum, and a lawsuit.

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The acronym LGBT refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and transsexual communities. SSM refers to same-sex marriage.

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This topic continues from a previous essay

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2011-JUL-24: NY: Attempt to authorize a citizen initiative (referendum) on SSM:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) scheduled demonstrations in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and New York City on Sunday JUL-24. NOM claims that "nearly 10,000 were present" in New York City. That would represent 0.05% of the 19,378,102 people who are estimated to live in the New York City Metropolitan Area. 1 The Associated Press said that the crowd in New York City involved "thousands of opponents of gay marriage." They estimated about 400 people at the Albany demonstration, and a few hundred in Buffalo. 2

NOM is forming a coalition led by Rev. Ruben Diaz (a NY senator), Jason McGuire (president of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms -- a conservative Christian group) -- Joseph Mattera (Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York City), and others. They originally stated that their goal was to sponsor a referendum to repeal the SSM law. This would restrict marriage once more to one man and one woman in the state.

This may be a difficult path to overcome SSM because New York State does not have a citizen initiative process like California's Propositions. 3 The legislature could conceivably order a referendum to sample public opinion, but it would not be binding and would not automatically repeal the SSM law. It would also be difficult for the sponsors to attain victory because a recent poll showed 58% support of, and 36% opposition to, SSM among New York adults. A margin of 22 percentage points would be very difficult to overcome.

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What would be the likely outcome of the proposed referendum?

Nate Silver, author of the FiveThirtyEight blog on the New York Times, specializes in the statistical analysis of political trends and campaigns. On 2011-JUN-29, he predicted the percentage of the vote that a hypothetical anti-gay marriage ballot initiative would receive in each of the states. He used two statistical techniques:

  • A linear model which assumes that the support for same-sex marriage increases at about the same rate every year, and

  • An accelerated model that uses the trend line from national polls on same-sex marriage.

The two models "... produce nearly identical estimates on the historical data, they diverge somewhat in their forecasts [of future data] because same-sex marriage appears to have gained support at a faster rate in the last couple of years."

His linear model predicts a vote of 44.3% favorable/55.7% unvavorable vote if a referendum banning same-sex marriagein New York State were held on 2012-NOV. The margin would be 11.4 percentage points; the referendum would be "favored to be rejected." His accelerated model predicts a 40.4% favorable/59.6 unfavorable vote. The margin would be 28.8 percentage points. It would also be "favored to be rejected."

However, NOM indicates that they are aiming at the 2015-NOV election day. Since support for SSM in the state is increasing in excess of 1 percentage point per year, and opposition is decreasing at about the same rate, the margins should increase by about 4 percentage points making passage very unlikely. 4

Pollsters at Marist College interviewed 660 New York State adults between 2011-JUL-28 and 31. When asked whether they want to keep the Marriage Equality Act on the books the results were about 2 to 1 in favor of retaining the law:

  • 63% of state residents do not want to see the law overturned.
  • 32% would like to see the law repealed.
  • 5% that are unsure or didn't reply.

In addition:

  • 72% of Democrats and
  • 66% of Independents and
  • 47% of Republicans are in favor of maintaining the law; 48% of Republicans favor overturning it.

The margin of error is ~+mn~4 percentage points. 5

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2011-JUL-25: NY: Attempt to declare the SSM law invalid via a lawsuit:

One day after the Marriage Equality Act came into effect, the evangelical Christian group New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court. They are making two requests, that the court:

  • Declare the Marriage Equality Act null and void, and
  • Forcibly divorce all same-sex weddings that will have taken place since JUL-24, against the will of the spouses,

They assert that the Legislature used a "corrupt legislative process" to pass the law.

Plaintiff Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of the NYCF said:

"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."

On another occasion, McGuire said:

"We should have an open and deliberative process," the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, told The Associated Press. "If truly the legislation can stand on its own merits then it should be able to withstand being deliberated publicly." 6

Other plaintiffs are Nathaniel S. Leiter, executive director for Torah Jews for Decency -- an Orthodox Jewish group -- and Rev. Duane Motley of First Bible Baptist Church in Greece, NY, the founder of NYCF.

Named as defendants are the Senate, the Health Department and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The lawsuit alleges a number of improper actions in the Senate during the passage of the bill:

  • The NYS open meetings laws were violated.
  • Normal voting procedures were suspended.
  • The bill was not sent to one or more committees before arriving at the full Senate. [A visitor to this website emailed us suggesting that this was hardly necessary as the topic had been endlessly debated and examined four times before.]
  • Lobbyists and the public were denied access to Senators. [One commentator suggests that this is because "swing-vote Republicans allegedly turned off their mobile phones June 24, the day of the historic vote."]
  • The governor did not wait the normal three days before signing the bill into law as the Constitution requires for non-emergency legislation. Time Magazine commented: "Such waivers are common in Albany for negotiated bills." 6
  • Bribes given to Republican senators to vote in favor of the bill. 7,8

The lawsuit states that:

"... the plaintiffs in this case seek to preserve not only marriage as a union of one woman to one man, but also our constitutional liberties by acting as a check on an out-of-control political process that was willing to pass a bill regardless of how many laws and rules it violated." 9

The plaintiffs will be represented by Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group from Liberty University -- an educational facility founded by the well known fundamentalist Jerry Falwell (1933-2007).

Mathew Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, issued a statement saying:

"New York law requires that the government be open and transparent to keep political officials responsible. When government operates in secret and freezes out the very people it is supposed to represent, the entire system fails. The back-room tactics were rampant in the passages of this law. The law should be set aside and the process should begin again to allow the people a voice in the process." 10

Joshua Vlasto, a spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said that ''the plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York.'' 8

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. New York State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, 2010, at:
  2. "Gay marriage opponents rally in New York," Associated Press, 2011-JUL-24, at:
  3. Brian Brown, "New Yorkers Stand 10,000 Strong for Marriage!," National Organization for Marriage, Emailed bulletin, 2011-JUL-26.
  4. Nate Silver, "The Future of Same-Sex Marriage Ballot Measures," FiveThirtyEight blog, 2011-JUN-29, at:
  5. Julie Bolcer, "Poll: New Yorkers Pleased With Marriage Equality Law," The Advocate, 2011-AUG-11, at:
  6. Carolyn Thompson, "Opponents Sue Over NY Gay Marriage Law," Time, 2011-JUL-25, at:
  7. Hia Cheney, "Suit Seeks to Overturn Gay Marriage Law in New York, The Christian Post, 2011-JUL-25, at:
  8. "First lawsuit filed against New York gay marriage law," New York Post, 2011-JUL-26, at:
  9. "Group suing over same-sex marriage law," Democrat and, 2011-JUL-26, at:
  10. Michael Foust, Suit seeks to overturn N.Y. gay 'marriage' law," Baptist Press, 2011-JUL-25, at:

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 Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > NY > here

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Copyright 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-JUN-26
Latest update: 2011-NOV-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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