Lawsuit Filed Against NY Marriages; Group’s Lawyer Believes “God’s Law” Should Be Recognized Over “Man’s Laws”
July 25th, 2011
Twenty-four hours after New Yorkers began enjoying the fresh air of marriage equality, anti-gay activists filed a lawsuit against the New York state Senate challenging the process by which marriage equality became legal. New Yorker’s (sic) for Constitutional Freedom allege that the legislature violated the Open Meetings law, suspended normal voting procedures, denied public access to legislators, and failed to send the bill to proper committees. A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo blasted the group’s lawsuit, saying “The plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York. The suit is without merit.”
Because of the separation of power doctrine, this lawsuit is likely dead on arrival. Each branch of government is free to establish the rules under which that branch operates, and courts are loathe to cross those lines of separation and order one branch to abide by a different set of rules when those rules were established by that branch for the conduct of its business.
But the lack of basic understanding of the law comes as no surprise when one considers that the lawyer representing New Yorker’s (sic) for Constitutional Freedom is none other than Liberty Counsel’s Rena Lindevaldsen. You may recall that she was the lawyer for Lisa Miller, who kidnapped now nine-year-old Isabella after a court awarded custody of the child to her other mother, Janet Miller Jenkins. The FBI’s investigation led to the arrest of an accomplice who aided in the abduction, and showed that persons associated with Liberty Counsel were significantly involved in the conspiracy. Last May it was revealed that Lindevaldsen and Mat Staver, who heads Liberty Counsel, and who both teach at Liberty University’s law school, taught their students to choose “God’s law” over “man’s law.” When they presented a case remarkably similar to the Miller case to their students, they gave higher marks to students who said that Miller should be advised by their lawyer to engage in “civil disobedience” and ignore the court order.
Lindevaldsen’s views are as extreme as they come. Last year, she spoke at a so-called “Truth Academy” put on by the SPLC-certified hate group Americans for Truth, headed by Peter LaBarbera. Lindevaldsen told the small gathering, “We need to work to completely eliminate public schools — government schools — and push a Christian/Biblical model of educating our children.” She also equated civil unions to promiscuity, and talked about LGBT equality and “religous and first amendment freedoms” as a zer0-sum game. She also spoke of her resentment in having to observe the First Amendment’s separation of church and state:
When they ask me to be secular in my argumentation, they’re asking me to give up Truth. They’re asking me to give up my best weapon which is the absolute reality that I know from God. They’re asking me to go over onto their playing field and use their weapons that they chose for me.
This partly explains Chris Geidner’s observation that Lindevaldsen made a striking style decision in writing her brief:
One of the striking, though not surprising, quirks of the lawsuit is its constant insistence of using quotation marks around all mentions of marriage that relate to same-sex couples:
Immediate and irreparable harm will occur if injunctive relief is not granted insofar as couples will be “marrying” pursuant to a law that is invalid and, ultimately, could result in the invalidation of those “marriages.”
The move, whether its aim or not, has the effect of making the lawsuit look more like a political than a legal document.
In reality, the document is neither legal nor political. It’s religious.