.- In light of some 25 same-sex marriages performed by municipal officials, New York's attorney general affirmed yesterday that current state law prohibits same-sex marriage and that mayors should not preside over them.
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said New York's law contains references to "bride and groom" and "husband and wife" and does not authorize same-sex marriage. Gov. George Pataki has also said same-sex marriage is illegal. Although Spitzer said he would like to see the law changed, “marriage under New York State law is and has been for over 200 years between a man and a woman. And we have to uphold that law," he told the Associated Press.
Spitzer’s comment came after 25 same-sex couples were married Feb. 27 in New Paltz, N.Y. The mayor of the small college town north of Manhattan, Jason West, performed the marriages. West was to appear in court yesterday to answer to charges that he married 19 couples knowing they did not have marriage licenses. If convicted, he could face a fine, from $25 to $500. Despite the trial, West has about 1,200 same-sex couples on a waiting list to be married.
The mayor of Nyack, N.Y., John Shields, also said he plans to start marrying homosexual couples and planned to seek a license himself to marry his same-sex partner, reported the AP.
The recent same-sex weddings in New York are part of a national trend – which began in San Francisco last month – of municipal officials defying state law and performing same-sex marriages. More than 3,400 couples were married in San Francisco.
And the trend is only picking up steam. Officials in Portland, Ore., performed their first 50 same-sex marriages yesterday.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski said at a news conference after the ceremonies began that he supports civil unions for homosexuals but believes current state law does not allow same-sex marriages.
Kevin Mannix, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, called for the attorney general to put a halt to the marriages immediately, calling them a “travesty” and “an insult to the voters.”
In Washington, lawmakers continue to debate the constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.