The defiant young Mayor of New Paltz, NY, was charged with 19 criminal counts of performing illegal marriages for same-sex couples, Tuesday, March 2, 2004. While West was dismayed by the charge, higher NY officials agreed that the Mayor of the small college town stepping out of the bounds of state law.
"I'm incredibly disappointed," said West. "Apparently, it's a crime to uphold the Constitution of New York State."
The New York State Constitution, contrary to West’s claims, specifically prohibits homosexual marriage and protects marriage as only between a man and a woman.
On Friday, the Governor of NY, George Pataki, rightfully stated this section of the State constitution. Although the Pataki administration did not have an immediate reaction to the prosecution of Mayor West, he said his views on the issue was clear:
"It's clear to me he's breaking the law," Pataki told reporters.
The County’s District Attorney also agreed with the administration.
"State law says a public official can't preside over a marriage unless a marriage license is presented to him," said Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams. "It is not for this prosecutor and certainly not for a part-time mayor to take it on their own initiative to ignore that law."
West, who makes a living as a puppeteer, will face the New Paltz Town Court today, March 3, at 6 p.m. He could potentially be charged with a year in jail time and or $2,500 if found guilty.
Despite such charges, the disobedient mayor rebelliously vowed to hold more weddings on Saturday. Williams in turn said he may add counts if West continues to marry more couples.
Meanwhile, the White House announced that the hotly debated constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage would provide the states a strong voice, since the amendment must be passed by two-thirds of the House and Senate and three-fourths of the states.
“[With] the constitutional process the states will be involved. The states will get to have their say,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on March 2. “... [It would involve] members elected by the people that will be able to express the will of the people in the constitutional process.”
New York is currently one of 38 states that agree to protecting marriage as between man and a woman. The critical amendment would not only prohibit further licensing of homosexual “marriages,” but would also nullify the past licenses granted to same-sex couples.