William Duncan: NY SSM's Passage Sets Bad Precedent, Possibly Illegal


William Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation, examines the "unconventional" process of the bill's passage in the New York Senate. Some highlights:

Not only was Assembly Bill 8520 not available 72 hours before the vote last Friday, it was not public until earlier that same day... The New York Court of Appeals explained this constitutional requirement in Schneider v. Rockefeller: "The clear purpose of this provision is to prevent hasty and careless legislation, to prohibit amendments at the last moment, and to insure that the proposed legislation receives adequate publicity and consideration." It may be that courts will not want to examine the sufficiency of the governor's determination of necessity, but that should not insulate the determination from public criticism and debate. The governor's certification of the reasons for the quick procedure should be made readily available immediately.

... Second, Article III, section 10 requires: "The doors of each house shall be kept open, except when the public welfare shall require secrecy." Senator Kevin Parker revealed after the vote that the members were locked in the chamber.

... Other procedural irregularities, such as the failure to allow senators to speak to the bill or to allow the bill to be laid aside for debate are also relevant to this discussion. It has been reported that the governor was anxious for a quick resolution in order to allow the vote to be reported on the 11 o'clock news. This may be a politically savvy course but it does not necessarily comport with the law and these questions ought to get more attention and the actions of the governor and his Senate supporters deserves scrutiny.

However one comes down on whether same-sex marriage is good public policy, its passage in New York clearly sets a bad precedent, perhaps rendering its enactment illegal.