New Paltz Mayor Dismissed of Criminal Charges for Marrying Same-Sex Couples

( [email protected] ) Jun 12, 2004 11:41 AM EDT

On June 10, New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz dismissed criminal charges against New Paltz Mayor Jason West for marrying same-sex couples without a license, saying there was not substantial evidence to prove that the law West was charged with violating was constitutional.

Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams said the issue was whether West broke the law, not the constitutional rights of the gay couples. He promised an appeal.

West faced 19 misdemeanor counts of solemnizing marriages for couples without a license since Feb.27 in the Hudson Valley village of New Paltz. If convicted, he could have faced up to one year in jail.

On June 8, Ulster County Supreme Court Justice Michael Kavanagh placed a permanent injunction to bar West from marrying same-sex couples.

The 27-year-old part-time mayor said that he has no plans to marry more couples until the injunction is overturned but did note that members of the clergy have been marrying same-sex couples in New Paltz since he bowed out.

Matthew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel which filed the lawsuit to bar West from marrying same-sex couples, said previously in a statement, “An attempt to disregard the plain law of the land by elected officials should be viewed for what it is – illegal activity that must be brought to justice.”