New York Appeals Court Reject's Appeal Filed By New Paltz Mayor Jason West - Court Order Barring Mayor From Solemnizing Same-Sex Marriages Remains In Place

Mar 18, 2004

Albany, NY - The New York Supreme Appellate Division ("Court of Appeals"), in a 5-0 decision, rejected an appeal filed by New Paltz Mayor Jason West. Mayor West appealed Judge Vincent Bradley's emergency order of March 3, 2004, that barred him from solemnizing same-sex marriages without a valid marriage license. The lawsuit against Mayor West was filed by 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.

On March 3, Judge Bradley stated that Mayor West took an oath of office to uphold the law, and his solemnizing same-sex marriages without a valid license violated New York law which limits marriage to one man and one woman. Judge Bradley set a further hearing on the matter for April 7. Mayor West appealed this ruling, but the Court of Appeals rejected his arguments.

The ACLU attempted to intervene in the case on behalf of Mayor West to challenge the constitutionality of the marriage laws. On Friday last week, March 12, Liberty Counsel filed a response to the ACLU's request, pointing out why the ACLU had no legal right to challenge the laws. On Monday, March 15, the ACLU withdrew its request to intervene.

Staver commented, "I am pleased that the Court rejected the appeal of Mayor West. Incredibly, Mayor West argued that he was being harmed by the court's order which required him to obey the law! Mayors ought to get a clue -- they are required to uphold the law regardless of their personal opinions. Marriage in New York is between one man and one woman."

Liberty Counsel also filed suit against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Last week the California Supreme Court ordered Mayor Newsom to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Liberty Counsel has similarly filed suit against Seattle Mayor Gregory Nickels, Multnomah County, Oregon Commissioners, and has sought to intervene in Florida to defend its Defense of Marriage Act. Liberty Counsel is also preparing to intervene in West Virginia and New York City to defend their state marriage laws.