Mayor Cleared of Gay-Marriage Charges
By AP from the NYTimes on the Web, June 10, 2004
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A judge Thursday dismissed criminal charges against a small-town mayor for marrying gay couples, saying the state failed to show it has a legitimate interest in banning same-sex weddings.
New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz also ruled that prosecutors failed to prove the law New Paltz Mayor Jason West was charged with violating was constitutional.
West had faced the possibility of fines or up to a year in jail for presiding at the weddings of more than two dozen same-sex couples on Feb. 27.
The weddings drew the Hudson Valley village of New Paltz into the growing national debate over gay marriage.
West remains barred from marrying same-sex couples under an order issued earlier this week by another judge.
But he and his lawyer E. Joshua Rosenkranz called Katz's ruling a major victory for gay rights.
"If history is any guide, this is the beginning of an unstoppable trend in New York," Rosenkranz said.
Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams said he disagreed with Katz's ruling and would appeal.
West, 27, faced 19 misdemeanor counts of solemnizing marriages for couples without a license.