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Anti-gay marriage group challenges state election laws

A federal judge in Buffalo heard legal arguments Thursday afternoon from a national group that opposes gay marriage and wants to sponsor advertisements supporting Republican Carl P. Paladino for governor.

District Judge Richard J. Arcara reserved decision after hearing arguments between Randy Elf, lawyer for the National Organization for Marriage, and Kenneth A. Manning, who represents the state elections board.

Elf said the national organization feels that state election laws that would require it to register as a political committee are unconstitutional.

If the state insists that the organization must register as a political committee and publicly list names of its donors, it will not run the ads and its voice will not be heard in the election process, Elf said.

Manning contends that state election laws are constitutional.

"The Board of Elections wants a transparent, clean election and they feel that outweighs the plaintiffs' interest in secrecy," he said.

Based in Washington, the National Organization For Marriage has similar legal challenges pending in about eight other states, the group's president told The Buffalo News in an interview.

The group says it supports "strong pro-family, pro-child" candidates, including Paladino, but also says it is not "under the control" of any particular candidate.

Manning said the anti-gay marriage group wants "preferential treatment" that is not given to more than 11,000 other political committees throughout the state.

Statewide elections will be held on Nov. 2.

-- Dan Herbeck    

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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

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Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

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Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

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Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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