A New York judge on Thursday denied New Paltz mayor Jason West's motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to bar him from performing same-sex marriages. West attracted national attention on February 27 by performing a series of gay weddings outside the village hall of the small Hudson Valley college town. A civil lawsuit was filed days later on behalf of a village trustee, Robert Hebel, arguing that the mayor had violated state law and should be barred from performing more same-sex weddings.
West, under a temporary restraining order keeping him from officiating at more weddings, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. He argued that Hebel lacks standing to bring the suit. Supreme court justice Michael Kavanagh of Ulster County disagreed, saying Hebel should be able to make such claims as a resident of New Paltz. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based legal group that bought the suit on behalf of Hebel, said he was pleased with the decision. West also faces criminal charges for officiating at the weddings. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for May 17.