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Judge orders N.Y. town mayor to halt solemnization of same-sex ‘marriages’

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. (BP)–Giving conservatives a welcomed victory, a New York judge March 5 ordered the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., to stop solemnizing same-sex “marriages” without a marriage license.

Ulster County Supreme Court Judge Vincent Bradley issued a temporary restraining order against Mayor Jason West, who presided in more than 20 same-sex ceremonies Feb. 27. West conducted the ceremonies without a marriage license, an action that is illegal in New York.

It is the first short-term victory for conservatives in the nationwide controversy that began Feb. 12 when San Francisco started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Judges there have refused to stop the city from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, although two judges did indicate that the actions were illegal. The largest county in Oregon followed San Francisco’s footsteps.

Liberty Counsel filed suit in New York on behalf of New Paltz Board of Trustees member Bob Hebel.

“I am extremely pleased with this ruling,” Liberty Counsel President Mathew Staver told Baptist Press. “Finally, a court used common sense and the clear letter of the law to rein in the mayor who deliberately disobeyed the law. This ruling today is a great victory not only for the rule of law but for the institution of marriage.”

Bradley’s stay is good through April 7, when West is ordered to appear in court. Liberty Counsel is seeking a permanent order.

The New Paltz, N.Y., clerk refused to follow along and issue marriage licenses, so West made up his own forms.

The same day the judge issued the order, West released a statement saying he was postponing solemnization ceremonies scheduled for March 6. He said he was planning to meet with New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and persuade him “to join forces with our cause.” Spitzer previously released a statement saying that same-sex “marriage” is illegal in the state.

West also faces a series of misdemeanors in criminal court. He was arraigned March 3.

“The implications of this are very clear,” Staver said. “No one else in the state of New York has the authority to on their own issue same-sex marriage licenses. The law in New York says that marriage is one man and one woman.”

Judge Bradley ordered West to stop “solemnizing marriages without first being presented with a marriage license issued by a town or city clerk in the form and manner prescribed by the New York State Department of Health.”

Irreparable harm would follow if West was allowed to continue because he would be setting an “example of a duly elected public official sworn to uphold the laws deciding to obey and/or enforce only those laws that he or she agrees with,” Bradley wrote.

Meanwhile, Lambda Legal, a homosexual activist group, filed suit March 5 seeking to overturn New York’s marriage laws.

“This is the whole enchilada. We seek, and intend to win, full marriage for lesbian and gay couples across New York — nothing more and nothing less,” Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, said in a statement.

In Oregon, pro-family groups are filing suit seeking to stop Multnomah County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A group of pastors known as the Defense of Marriage Coalition, along with the Alliance Defense Fund, filed suit March 5 seeking an injunction against the county. Liberty Counsel is set to follow March 8.
For more information on the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit BP’s story collection at:

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  • Michael Foust