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Is a NY Gay Marriage Lawsuit Coming Soon?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 28, 2011 6:37 AM

The Empire State may have become the largest in the nation to approve same-sex marriages on Friday, but how long will it last? And is a NY gay marriage lawsuit coming soon?

Given the fact that most successful campaigns for same-sex marriages have led to court challenges (Prop 8, anyone?), these are valid and important questions.

This is even more true in the state of New York, where Governor Cuomo gave religious objectors a bit more ammo than usual.

By all accounts, in order to win over key Republican votes, Democrats had to strengthen the religious exceptions detailed within the NY gay marriage law.

Even though the First Amendment arguably already guarantees such things, the Governor had to promise that religious organizations will not be forced to perform or recognize same-sex marriages, nor be penalized for doing so.

But, in a strange move, the bill's supporters also agreed to include a non-severability clause, which basically says that if any portion of the bill is found unconstitutional, the entire bill would be void.

In other words, if someone brings a NY gay marriage lawsuit and wins, same-sex marriages would no longer be legal under state law.

Though it was necessary to garner support for the bill, this clause may become the opposition's saving grace.

Those who oppose same-sex marriage are already vowing to fight the gay marriage law, most likely on the grounds that the exemptions don't go far enough and infringe on the rights of religious institutions.

Even though this, and most other legal arguments against the law are likely to be pretty weak, the fact that any win, no matter how small, will repeal the entire law makes a NY gay marriage lawsuit more risky, and more likely to occur.

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