While the borough’s lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community is calling it another leap toward marriage equality in New York, a Brooklyn state legislator has opted to sue Governor David Paterson over his plans to acknowledge legal same-sex marriages outside the Empire State.
State Senator Martin Golden joined his name to a list of four conservative legislators opposed to Paterson’s announcement last week that he has ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages in California, Canada and other locales where these nuptials are performed legally.
According to the New York Times, the lawsuit, filed Tuesday with the assistance of a Conservative Christian policy group, seeks an injunction against the order.
State legislators joining Golden in the suit include Assembly minority leader James Tedisco and Queens State Senator Serphin Maltese.
Lawyers for the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian group that spearheaded the suit, claims that Paterson has “seized the Legislature’s authority and overridden the will of the people,” according to court papers.
The borough’s LGBT community, who had praised Paterson’s announcement, was outraged by the hurdle the suit creates, as well as Golden’s decision to lend his name to the suit.
“Marty Golden has never been a friend to any LGBT person who lives in New York City and it is absolutely despicable that he would find it necessary to stop same-sex couples and partners from having the same rights that he and his wife share,” said Alan Fleishman, a former president of Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s leading LGBT political group, and the male Democratic District Leader for the 52nd Assembly District in Park Slope. “This is 2008 and gays and lesbians deserve the same rights that everyone else does. The people in his State Senate district should be ashamed that he is being represented by a homophobic bigot.”
Admitting that he is personally opposed to gay marriage, Golden told this paper that he joined the suit not because of what the order does, but because Paterson made the order in the first place.
“It’s a power grab, [Paterson] is ruling by fiat,” said Golden. “He’s reached beyond his authority by making this executive order. [The suit] is not about gay marriage, it’s about the way he’s implementing his authority. Decisions like this should be made by the rule of the people, through the legislative process and Paterson summarily excluded the will of the people by making this order.”
“No single member of government has the authority to unilaterally impose upon the entire populate the entire definition of marriage, especially in New York right now, where this issue hasn’t even gone all the way through the courts,” added Austin Nimrocks, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, told the Times.
Despite this bump in the road, LGBT residents are seeing Governor Paterson’s executive order as a step in the right direction.
Brooklyn Heights resident Harley Diamond, who married his partner Jonathan Lovett during a private ceremony in 1994 and then again in Canada in 2005, said that Paterson’s decision will allow them to receive a host of legal benefits that heterosexual couples do.
“We’re looking forward to filing joint tax returns,” Diamond said. “My partner and I have been together for 16 years, and we’re very involved in this community. There is absolutely no basis or reason why we shouldn’t enjoy the same benefits that heterosexuals do.”
“Personally I find it embarrassing and a bit upsetting that California decided to legalize same sex marriages before New York did,” he said.
Terrance Knox and Dan Willson, the current co-presidents of the Lambda Independent Democrats, believe that Paterson’s order should make it easier for the state legislature to approve same-sex marriage when it comes to the floor again.
“Governor Paterson has done the right thing by quickly implementing recent court rulings,” Knox said. “We now need the legislature to make marriage equality the law.”
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