NYCF Sue State Senate Over SSM (Updated)

Claiming that their “constitutional liberties” were violated, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms have just announced that they have brought a lawsuit against the state senate for the passage of same sex marriage.

The case is being filed this morning in Livingston County Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are two of the biggest opponents to same sex marriage, Rev. Duane Motley and Rev. Jason McGuire. Also listed is Rabbi Nathaniel Leiter, the executive director of Torah Jews for Decency.

In the suit, they argue that the bill was only able to pass because state officials violated Open Meeting Laws, the senate suspended rules to prevent people from speaking, lobbyists and public advocates were denied access to the Senate chamber, and the Governor unjustifiably issued a message of necessity on the bill.

But the most damning charge in the case, is the accusation that Wall Street financiers made large contributions to supporters of the bill in exchange for them changing their vote.

“It is unfortunate that state senators chose to protect their personal interests, rather than the people they were elected to represent. Some of the players may have changed, but it looks like same old Albany game. It is time the curtain be pulled back and the disinfecting light of good government shine upon the Cuomo Administration and our State Legislature,” Rev. Jason McGuire said.

Updated: Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman, Josh Vlasto, calls the suit without merit in a statement.

“The plaintiffs lack a basic understanding of the laws of the state of New York,” he said. “The suit is without merit.”

SSM Complaint

DCCC Targeting GOP Lawmakers On Debt

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting 60 Republican lawmakers around the country via automatic calls over the ongoing battle on raising the debt ceiling.

The robocalls, which are also targeting four freshman Republicans here in New York, remind voters over the the Republicans’ refusal to support tax increases, including hikes for the wealthy and hesitance to close loopholes.

The campaign warns voters about the effects of a possible default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Aug. 2 and spins a near-doomsday scenario of high gas and food prices along with dire consequences for 401(k) accounts.

New York lawmakers being hit with the robocall are Staten Island’s Michael Grimm, Nan Hayworth of the Hudson Valley, the Capital Region’s Chris Gibson, Richard Hanna and Ann Marie Buerkle.

Here’s the sample script:

“Hi, this is Travis calling on behalf of the DCCC. Congressman Tom Latham and Speaker Boehner would rather our economy default just to protect tax breaks for Big Oil companies and billionaire jet-owners. Republicans quit negotiating with President Obama on raising the debt ceiling.

“This is serious. Latham’s billionaire buddies will be ok. But we will pay the price if government can’t pay its bills. Our Social Security and Medicare benefits are at risk. Interest rates would spike for our credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Our 401(k) retirement accounts would drop. And, gas and food prices would skyrocket.

“Enough is enough. Call Congressman Tom Latham at (641) 357-5225 and tell him not to gamble our future to protect tax breaks for Big Oil and billionaires.

Everyone is back to the negotiating table today as Washington tries to hammer out a deal in order to meet the deadline.

Former Paladino Campaign Worker: Carl Owes Me Money

A former campaign worker for Carl Paladino’s gubernatorial bid sent an angry letter to the state Bar Association to formally complain that the Republican businessman is reneging on debts to at least a dozen people.

Tim Suereth, who has been complaining for months that Paladino still owes him for relocation fees, travel expenses and “retroactive” salary cuts.

Suereth writes in the letter of complaint that Paladino, a licensed attorney, still owes him $6,300 for relocation fees and reimbursements — although he adds it’s likely much more considering his pay cut. He attaches expense reports and emails that he claims remain unfulfilled.

Suereth, a Miami resident, was hired at a rate of $12,000 a month to work on the Paladino campaign last year. But quickly that sum fizzled as Paladino cut pay and struggled to raise money.

Suereth says he later quit the campaign and stayed on as an unpaid volunteer.

“I was told not to worry about getting my money because ‘It’s Carl Paladino.’ I thought that to mean Mr. Paladino pays all his debts. I later found this to be untrue, as detailed by many past employees/staff members who have been defrauded by Mr. Paladino,” Suereth writes.

And Suereth doesn’t just leave it at the complaint over campaign finances in the letter. He dredges up the legendary “Sagamore Smackdown” with New York Post state editor Fred Dicker (whom he incorrectly describes as “the editor” of the New York Post and writes Paladino threatened to kill Dicker, a very debatable assertion).

“All other licensed attorneys have their reputations tarnished when other ‘rouge’ attorneys act out in such a public and reprehensible way,” Suereth claims.

Though Paladino had pledged to use his millions in the race, much of his money is tied up in real estate holding, making liquid assets difficult to come by during the campaign. The infamous Paladino video in which he claimed his Democratic opponent’s “prowess is legendary” was followed by an appeal for donations from chief fundraiser Nancy Naples.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is back in Albany with no public schedule.

Mayor Bloomberg will present the NYC financial plan at the annual state Financial Control Board Meeting at 4 p.m. in Cuomo’s Midtown Manhattan office.

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch will formally endorse GOP NY-9 candidate Bob Turner at 11 a.m. in Howard Beach, citing the businessman’s “unwavering support” for Israel.

Sen. Chuck Schumer is in CNY to sound the alarm over the dangers of counterfeit military parts. (10:45 a.m., Syracuse).

The gay weddings continue: Some 50 couples are expected to tie the knot this morning in Niagara Falls.

More headlines…

The Aug. 2 deadline looms and still no debt ceiling deal in sight. Instead: Rival plans.

The president has cancelled fundraising appearances as debt talks have stalled.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, speaks to ABC News.

Mayor Bloomberg on presiding over the nuptials of his two aides, John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz: “Two people who loved each other dearly came together and pledged their lives to each other. I’m glad I asked to be a part of it.”

The divorced billionaire mayor offered some marital advice to the newly-wed couple, who have been together for well over a decade and have two daughters, ages 6 and 8.

A printer problem at the Manhattan clerk’s office kept same-sex couples who had waited years to marry waiting a little longer.

Who won the first-at-midnight-to-wed race? Unclear.

More >

Cuomo Celebrates Marriage Equality

Governor Cuomo held a closed press party today in New York City, celebrating the first day that same-sex couples could get married. The administration did release the Governor’s remarks at the event.

Cuomo praised the progressive record of his father, Mario, who was in attendance. Saying he has been on the forefront of all progressive issues, from opposing the death penalty to supporting abortion rights when both issues were unpopular.

The Governor went on to say that passage of this bill was important because now the gay community is on equal footing with all other residents of New York.

“For me, marriage equality was all about the second word more than the first word. It was about equality more than marriage. And that is what this fight was really about. Equality, and dignity, and non-discrimination, and acceptance, and non-judgmentalism. That’s what it was really about. It was about government and society saying there is full equality with the gay community,” Cuomo said.

“People would say, why not civil unions. Because its not equal. Because it is different. Well, it is almost the same. Yeah, but almost isn’t good enough. And that was the point of the entire effort.”

Cuomo went on say that he expects passage of this bill will be a catalyst for passage of similar bills in other states across the country.

The (Wedding-Filled) Weekend That Was

Midnight weddings took place all across New York – from Niagara Falls, to Long Island, to Binghamton, to Albany and beyond – as gay marriage became legal in the Empire State.

Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53 – both grandmothers, both from Buffalo – were married just after midnight Saturday at Niagara Falls’ State Park’s Luna Island.

The falls were lit like a rainbow for the event.

There will be group weddings taking place throughout the week on Long Island and in Niagara Falls.

Gay couples in NY are now subject to the same parental pressure to wed that heterosexual couples have been suffering for years.

The NYT wedding announcement for John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, the Bloomberg administration staffers whose wedding will be officiated by the mayor at Gracie Mansion this evening.

Feinblatt and Mintz have become the public face of same-sex wedded bliss-to-be in NYC.

The two men sat down with their boss for an interview with Christine Amanpour.

Bloomberg gave campaign cash to senators on both sides of the gay marriage debate.

Chelsea residents Phyllis Siegel, 76, and Connie Kopelov, 84, were the first gay couple to wed this morning in Manhattan, setting off wedding bells across Gotham.

Their union was witnessed by NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the first openly gay woman to hold her leadership post.

More >

Weekend Open Thread

Same-sex marriages will soon be taking place all over the state.

Meanwhile, NY residents continue to try to beat the heat wave – heat dome? – that appears to have settled in like a summer rental guest who has long since outstayed their welcome.

Hope you’re keeping cool, and, if it applies to you, mazel tov!

LB

Extras

NY1 Exclusive: Mayor Ed Koch is endorsing Bob Turner for Congress.

The White House has certified the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell.

The repeal goes into effect in 60 days.

Sen. Neil Breslin will give the speech he wasn’t allowed to deliver the same-sex marriage passed the Senate at a gay wedding Sunday night in Albany.

Two couples who were Lambda Legal’s former plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging NYS’s lack of a gay marriage law will be among the same-sex duos marrying this weekend.

Cuomo and DNC Executive Director (and former NYer) Patrick Gaspard will headline DL21C’s 50th Birthday bash for President Obama opn Aug. 3.

So much for that peace deal among the Buffalo Democrats. Back to the drawing board, Charlie King.

Senators John DeFrancisco and Mike Gianaris are going to debate redistricting on a Syracuse radio station. Time is still TBD.

County Executive Rob Astorino continues his push for the building of a new Tappan Zee bridge.

The state Labor department says “operator error” led to the death of one people at Darien Lake two weeks ago.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are standing by DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, during her ordeal with Republican Rep. Allen West.

The eyes of the world are on the terror attack in Oslo, Norway.

DeFrancisco Says Cuomo Should Sign ‘Fair’ Lines

Republican Senator John DeFrancisco is echoing what Democratic Assemblyman Jack McEneny said a few weeks ago, that Governor Cuomo shouldn’t veto district lines that are drawn by LATFOR – the legislative body in charge of redistricting.

At a press conference in Syracuse today, DeFrancisco suggested the Governor’s pledge to veto any redistricting plan that is not drawn by an independent commission is not an ultimatum.

“I don’t think he is grandstanding. I think he truly believes that an independent commission is the right thing to do. But, I would hope that he’d recognize that you can’t just change the constitution by a statute. That’s number one. And number two is, that, he should be looking, I believe, at whatever the redistricting committee that is running around the state and ultimately the legislature ultimately passes, as to whether it is fair or not. If it is not fair, he should veto it. It’s happened before,” DeFrancisco said.

DeFrancisco went on to point out that the governor has compromised in the past, and he thinks he will likely do so again, if the lines are drawn fairly.

“It’s not like the Governor gives an ultimatum and he doesn’t negotiate or he doesn’t listen to other people. I think if he sees in the long run that this is fair redistricting he will sign it. If he doesn’t it is going to go to court anyway by someone else,” DeFrancisco added.

Earlier this month, Cuomo made it clear that he believes in a non-partisan commission, and reiterated his belief that gerrymandering needs to stop.

Gottfried: Med-Mar Would Be Legal If Not For Bruno’s Fall

ICYMI: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told me during a CapTon interview last night that he believes medical marijuana might be legal by now – if only Joe Bruno was still the Senate majority leader.

“I think there’s a very good chance if Joe Bruno had stayed around as majority leader in the Senate the bill would be law today,” the Manhattan Democrat said.

“Joe Bruno had, perhaps to some surprisingly, progressive positions on many issues on medical care – I think growing out of his life experience.”

“And the co-sponsors and votes for the bill in the Assembly have been from all over the political spectrum, from left and center, and some of our most conservative, rural legislators, have been active and very vocal sponsors of the bill.”

Gottfried, as you may know, has sponsored a bill to legalize med-mar for well over a decade now. The measure has passed the Assembly several times – the first time back in 2007 – but it has never been taken up in the Senate.

The bill did, at one point, have a majority sponsor – ex-Sen. Vincent Leibell, who has since been found guilty on federal corruption (not pot-related) charges and is now doing time behind bars.

Bruno expressed support for the measure after his successful treatment for prostate cancer. The sticking point has always been whoever is sitting in the governor’s office. Republican George Pataki was opposed. Ditto for Eliot Spitzer, who said his doctor brother told him synthetic drugs like Marinol work just as well, although he was open to discussion on the subject.

(For the record, advocates and med-mar users say Marinol is inferior because it’s hard to regulate the dosage – unlike smoking, which is done in, well, puffs).

Former AG Andrew Cuomo said during the 2010 governor’s race that he opposed the legalization of pot for medical use. Just this week, however, following NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to lift the freeze and his state’s program that he enacted last spring, Cuomo said he’s reviewing the issue, but doesn’t have a “final position.”