Saturday, May 31, 2008

Politics on the Hudson

Politics on the Hudson

A lawyer for the national Alliance Defense Fund said today that his group plans to file a lawsuit next week against Gov. David Paterson over his directive to recognize same-sex marriages in New York.

“We’re definitely going to file an action against the governor,” said Brian Raum, senior legal counsel for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which opposes same-sex marriage, told Gannett News Service.

“What he has done is completely outside of his authority.”

Other groups, including the Coalition To Save Marriage In New York, are expected to join the lawsuit against Paterson, who this week revealed a directive he issued in mid-May to state agencies telling them to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and nations.

Advocates say Paterson is well within his legal rights to make the move, and the state started offering health benefits last year to gay couples in state and local governments.

“What the governor did is in no way radical or stepping out ahead of the state,” said Susan Sommer, a lawyer with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. “What the governor is doing is simply following what is now very well established law.”

Paterson has used the same argument, saying that the state would be liable if he didn’t recognize same-sex marriage when it comes to state workers and state policies.

“What I’m trying to do is to accommodate the fact that if I didn’t take action, I would leave these state open to lawsuits. I would open the state treasury open to monetary damages,” Paterson said yesterday. “And I would be discriminating against individuals who come here from other jurisdictions.”

The governor’s communications director Risa Heller has not returned calls seeking comment on the pending lawsuit.

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