New Paltz mayor charged with violating New York's domestic relations law
Four days after presiding over a slew of same-sex marriages, the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., on Tuesday afternoon was charged with 19 violations of the state's domestic relations law, Newsday reports. Jason West, the 26-year-old Green Party mayor of this Hudson Valley town, was ordered to appear in court on Wednesday to answer charges that he broke state law by solemnizing about two dozen same-sex weddings without marriage licenses, according to New Paltz police and West's lawyer.
Chief Raymond Zappone said he and a lieutenant from the town police served West with a 19-count summons and that the mayor faces up a $500 fine and a year in jail for his actions, which have attracted international attention and brought the fight over gay marriage squarely into New York. The charges come as West is planning to hold more ceremonies this weekend and with other officials around the state considering similar actions. It also coincides with increasing pressure on state attorney general Eliot Spitzer, who last week refused a call by the governor to prevent and nullify the marriages or to step in and issue some clarifying words on the legality of same-sex marriage in the state.