Criminal Charges are Reinstated Against New Paltz Mayor Jason West for Illegally Solemnizing Same-Sex Unions

Feb 3, 2005

Judge J. Michael Bruhn with the Ulster County Supreme Court in New York reinstated 24 misdemeanor counts against Mayor West for illegally solemnizing the marriages of two dozen same-sex couples. A town court judge had dismissed the charges, citing alleged constitutional problems with marriage laws that limit marriage to the union of a man and a woman. The Supreme Court, in reversing the town court decision, explained that whether Mayor West believes the laws are unconstitutional is irrelevant. As a public official, he took an oath to uphold the law and has no authority to pick and choose which laws he will follow.

Judge Bruhn's opinion echoes two separate decisions of Judge E. Michael Kavanagh of the Ulster County Supreme Court granting permanent injunctions against Mayor West and other Village officials prohibiting them from solemnizing marriages between same-sex couples in violation of the law. Those injunctions came as a result of lawsuits filed by Liberty Counsel on behalf of Robert (Bob) Hebel, a member of the New Paltz Board of Trustees. Mr. Hebel is represented by Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Rena Lindevaldsen, Senior Litigation Counsel for Liberty Counsel.

Staver commented, "Knowingly disobeying the law is not a game. The mayor took an oath to uphold the laws of New York. He has knowingly and deliberately violated those laws. We are pleased that the rule of law has returned to New Paltz." Staver concluded, "Attempts to disregard the clear law of the land by elected officials should be viewed for what it is - illegal activity. If you break the law, you must be brought to justice."

Harvey Milk School in New York City Segregates Based on Sexual Preference

Since Harvey Milk High School, the first public school in America for homosexual students, opened its doors on September 8, 2003, it has received much criticism and publicity. On August 13, 2004, in an effort to prevent public funding of a school that discriminates and segregates on the basis of one's sexual orientation, Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the school on behalf of New York State Senator Ruben Diaz. The lawsuit challenges the NYC Department of Education's grant of nearly $4 million dollars to the school, which affords better facilities, better equipment, and better student-faculty ratio to students who identify as homosexual, than are afforded to many other schools in the district. 

Ten Commandments Case Update

We are in the writing phase of the Reply Brief in the McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky case, which will be argued before the United States Supreme Court on March 2. The ACLU responded to our Initial Brief by arguing that the Ten Commandments did not play a significant role in America's history and, as such, should not be displayed in government buildings. Please pray for clarity of thought and physical strength and protection for Mat Staver and the rest of our legal team as we write this very important final brief, which will be filed with the Court by February 25.