N.Y. Gov. Cuomo blocks some federal judges from officiating at weddings — because they might be Trump nominees

The seemingly innocuous measure had passed the state Legislature with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans.
Image: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at his Midtown Manhattan office.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at his Midtown Manhattan office.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

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By Allan Smith

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a noncontroversial bipartisan bill that would have allowed all federal judges to officiate weddings in the state because some might have been nominated to the bench by President Donald Trump.

"I cannot in good conscience support legislation that would authorize such actions by federal judges who are appointed by this federal administration," Cuomo's veto message stated.

"President Trump does not embody who we are as New Yorkers," the Democratic governor added Friday. "The cornerstones that built our great state are diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Based on these reasons, I must veto this bill."

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The legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Liz Krueger, passed the state Senate by a 61-to-1 vote. It passed the state Assembly by a 144-to-2 tally. Both the state Senate and the Assembly are under Democratic control.

Currently, New York law permits all state judges in their official capacity to preside over wedding ceremonies, although only certain federal judges — like those in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and those at each of the state's federal district courts — are eligible to preside over weddings. This bill would have expanded the wedding authority to all federal judges, largely those from outside New York.

"Four years ago, we gave the governor the ability to perform marriages," Krueger said in a statement. "Two years ago, we gave legislators that ability. Marriage in New York is inclusive, equal, and open to all who want it. So when it was suggested to me that we expand it to federal judges, I thought, 'Why not? The more the merrier!' I'm certainly no fan of the judges this president is choosing to appoint — but since any New Yorker can become a minister online for $25 and legally perform weddings, I didn't consider this to be a major issue."

Trump has now had nearly 190 federal judges confirmed through his first term, including 1 in every 4 circuit court judges.

The Federal Judges Association declined to comment on Cuomo's veto, saying that the "solemnization of marriage is within the sole jurisdiction of individual states which control all matters of family law."

"Federal Judges do enjoy performing wedding ceremonies as a function granted specifically by the laws of many states in the Union, but that grant of authority is not universal," U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, president of the Federal Judges Association, told NBC News in a statement.

The White House declined to comment. Cuomo did not respond to a request for comment from NBC News.