Originally published on Advocate.com March 23 2004 1:00 AM ET
Six ministers of the Unitarian Universalist Church performed marriage ceremonies for 25 same-sex couples Saturday, defying prosecutors who view the practice as illegal. The weddings, which the ministers consider to be legal unions, thus raising the ire of prosecutors, were held at a New Paltz bed-and-breakfast.
There were no arrests, and only one person showed up across the street from the inn to protest, said James Fallarino, a spokesman for the ceremony organizers. The reverends Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey were scheduled to be arraigned Monday on misdemeanor charges for allegedly solemnizing marriages of same-sex couples who have no civil marriage license. Greenleaf was among those performing ceremonies Saturday.
Although Unitarian ministers have performed gay marriage ceremonies across the country for years, Greenleaf and Sangrey departed from that tradition when they said they view the ceremonies as civil and legal. Greenleaf and Sangrey will plead not guilty and are ready go to court, said lawyer Robert Gottlieb. Greenleaf and Sangrey face the same charges filed against New Paltz mayor Jason West, who last month drew the state into a national debate over same-sex unions. West married 25 gay and lesbian couples on February 27.