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ADF attorneys file suit against N.Y. Gov. Paterson

Lawmakers, taxpayers argue governor acted illegally in ordering state agencies to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other jurisdictions
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NEW YORK — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit Tuesday in New York state court on behalf of lawmakers and taxpayers to halt implementation of Gov. David Paterson’s directive ordering state agencies to recognize same-sex “marriages” from other jurisdictions.

“The governor should respect New York’s marriage laws over the laws of foreign jurisdictions.  The governor has no authority to issue directives which conflict with New York’s public policy.  His actions are an assault on the democratic process,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Brian Raum.

“The future of marriage should be decided by the legislature, not executives who take matters into their own hands,” Raum said.  “New Yorkers have a fundamental right to set marriage policy through the legislative process, but the governor has ordered a radical redefinition of marriage without the consent of the governed.  Ignoring the democratic process does not help the government in its duty to promote and encourage strong families.”

On May 14, Paterson issued an executive directive ordering all state agencies to review their policy statements, regulations, and statutes “to ensure that terms such as ‘spouse,’ ‘husband,’ and ‘wife’ are construed in a manner that encompasses legal same-sex marriages.”  The directive instructs agencies to extend all the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples “married” elsewhere.

The lawsuit filed by ADF attorneys on behalf of New York lawmakers and taxpayers asserts that the governor acted beyond his authority in issuing the directive and that implementation of it will cause a wrongful expenditure of taxpayer funds in a state where same-sex “marriage” is not legal.

According to the governor’s office, the decision to recognize same-sex “marriages” was based in part on a decision in a state lawsuit, Martinez v. County of Monroe, which said that Empire State municipalities must recognize foreign same-sex “marriages.”  However, that lawsuit has not ended and several other lawsuits on the same issue are still in the midst of litigation, making reliance upon any actions in the Martinez case unfounded and premature.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.