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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Criminal Charges Dismissed Against NY Ministers 

Following last month's dismissal of criminal charges against New Paltz, NY mayor Jason West for performing marriage ceremonies for couples without marriage licenses, another New Paltz Town Justice has likewise dismissed the same charges against two Unitarian Universalist ministers who stepped in to perform the marriages after West was enjoined from continuing.

Town Justice Judith Reichler stated that the charges against Rev. Kay Greenleaf and Rev. Dawn Sangrey were invalid, and that although the DA's office had argued that the charges related only to performing the ceremony for unlicensed couples and did not relate to the fact that the couples were gay, the two issues were "inextricably intertwined," and she called into question the constitutionality of denying marriage licenses to gay couples, specifically rejecting the DA's arguments of tradition and procreation as valid rationales for the disparate treatment of couples based on their sexual orientation.

Justice Reichler's decision is not yet posted, but the town has posted the earlier decision here.

The Ulster County District Attorney's office has not indicated whether they would appeal the dismissal. They have stated an intention to appeal the earlier decision in the West case.
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UPDATE 8/11/04: Lexis has Justice Reichler's decision in People v. Greenleaf, with citation 2004 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1121. A text only version can be found here.

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