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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Thursday, February 3, 2005

Criminal Charges Reinstated Against Mayor Who Married Gay Couples

From Newsday:  "Criminal charges against New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West for marrying gay couples were reinstated Wednesday by a judge who said public officials cannot pick and choose which laws to obey.  Twenty-four misdemeanor counts were filed against West after he married a series of gay couples last Feb. 27 in the Hudson Valley college town of New Paltz. But the charges were dismissed last summer by a town court judge who said there were constitutional problems in banning same-sex marriages.  Ruling on an appeal from prosecutors, Ulster County Court Judge J. Michael Bruhn said the criminal case against West was not about the constitutionality of gay marriage, but whether West lived up to his oath of office to uphold the law. Bruhn wrote in his decision that under the town court's logic, a mayor may "ignore and flout" a law he believes is unjust or unconstitutional.  Ruling on an appeal from prosecutors, Ulster County Court Judge J. Michael Bruhn said the criminal case against West was not about the constitutionality of gay marriage, but whether West lived up to his oath of office to uphold the law. Bruhn wrote in his decision that under the town court's logic, a mayor may "ignore and flout" a law he believes is unjust or unconstitutional."  Full story here.  [Mark Godsey]

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