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New Paltz, N.Y., deputy mayor presides over gay weddings

New Paltz, N.Y., deputy mayor presides over gay weddings

The deputy mayor and a city trustee of New Paltz, N.Y., presided over the weddings of four same-sex couples, emboldened by the dismissal of criminal charges against Mayor Jason West for officiating at gay and lesbian weddings in February. Deputy Mayor Rebecca Rotzler and Trustee Julia Walsh performed the ceremonies Thursday night, a week after West was cleared of 19 misdemeanor counts of solemnizing weddings without a license. The judge who dismissed the charges against West said prosecutors had failed to prove that the New York State law banning same-sex marriage was constitutional. West had faced the possibility of fines or up to a year in jail and was barred from performing other weddings. Walsh said she plans to preside over more weddings this weekend because she feels encouraged by the judge's ruling. "We will not stop until all Americans have equal protection under the law," she said. Rotzler, whose has Alaskan ancestry, said her biracial parents married when it was considered illegal for them to do so. "I have never had anything but full support for the couples who have come here knowing they will find elected officials who stand by their constitutional rights," she said. In other news, Mayor West is now recognized as one of the country's most eligible bachelors, having been named one of America's "50 Hottest Bachelors" by People magazine along with acclaimed jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, who came out in The Advocate earlier this year. "Oh, my God, what was I thinking?" West said when asked by the Middletown, N.Y., Times-Herald Record about agreeing to the People interview. A sometime house painter who makes $18,000 a year as mayor, West finds himself among a high-profile crowd on the bachelors list, which also includes Hollywood heartthrob Tom Cruise, Google billionaire Larry Page, and Troy star Orlando Bloom. A Green Party member, West said he initially refused the People interview, but advisers convinced him he could make a positive impression on the magazine's 30 million readers. "I was completely and utterly wrong," he said.

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