Where’s the Emergency? By Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg prepares to open the City Clerk’s
office on Sunday, July 24th to allow for same-sex couples to apply for marriage
licenses, let’s be sure that no crimes will be committed in regard to the
24-hour waiting period that is required before a marriages can be
performed in New York.
No matter who thinks they may like to "Pay to
Play" in Albany, they have no right to ignore New York State Domestic
Relations Law 13-b.
Every marriage license must contain a
statement about this minimum waiting period before the marriage may
be solemnized. This statute also sets forth the limited circumstances
which must exist in order to grant a valid waiver of the 24-hour period
between the issuance of a marriage license and when a marriage ceremony may be
1. The order must be issued by a judge or justice of the supreme
court of this state or the county judge of the county in which either party to
be married resides, and
2. It shall appear from an examination of the license and any
other proofs submitted by the parties that one of the parties is (a) in danger
of imminent death, or (b) by reason of other emergency public interest will be
promoted thereby, or (c) that such delay will work irreparable injury or great
hardship upon the contracting parties, or one of them.
We can expect that the first part of the criteria will be
met because many Supreme Court Justices may be available on Sunday to grant
the waiver, but we really have to wonder about the lawless cynicism of any
judge who signs an order finding any of the three elements in the second
criteria. Obviously death is not an issue. "Emergency public
interest"? What might that be? "Irreparable injury or
great hardship"? Does that mean having to wait until Monday?
Plus, a waiver is not automatic -- you have to prove you are entitled to
it. What proofs will be submitted? What will be on the marriage
license to justify a waiver? Will written petitions be filed? Will
written orders be issued?
And, this order permitting a waiver would have to be
filed with the Clerk's office -- it will be a public record, and any false
statement in that record will be a criminal offense. Domestic Relations
Law 13-b actually says that it's a crime to solemnize a marriage in violation
of that section.
It will be interesting to see how can each couple could
anticipate an actual emergency to necessitate getting this done on Sunday.
Anything that requires a Court Order requires quite a lot of
paperwork: a Petition, a Request for Judicial Intervention, an Order to Show
Cause and a supporting Affidavit.
Even if there’s a legion of dedicated lawyers ready to knock
out these orders and petitions on Sunday, it could take an hour or two per
couple to interview each couple, get their information, sign and notarize and
file the documents.
And we must hope there will be no false statements made by
applicants or judges. Some eager journalist might want to inspect these
public records to see.
Since most courts only do commercial, tort and tax
e-filings, these kind of applications typically have to be filed on regular
business days Monday through Friday - not on a Sunday.
Just imagine hundreds of Petitions or Orders to Show Cause
dropped on the Court Clerk (who is different than the City Clerk in New York City) just to file and docket. I don't see how the
Mayor or Governor can waive these requirements or celebrate such lawlessness.
Maybe the New York District Attorney will issue the same
kind of statement that Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice made when she
warned officials to not commit crimes by refusing to grant licenses.
We all know that by some quirk of the law, the New York City
Clerk works for the City Council, and thus for the Speaker. Let’s see if
any of them care about the law or if they’ll ignore this law and fail to state
the minimum waiting period on the licenses so they can make the evening news on