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A Supreme Court judge Monday issued a permanent injunction that bars the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., from marrying gay couples. Ulster County Supreme Court Justice E. Michael Kavanagh said Mayor Jason West had reached beyond the scope of his authority by marrying same-sex couples who had not been issued valid marriage licenses. West performed numerous weddings in February and has argued that state laws that prevent same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses are unconstitutional. He has since been charged criminally and sued by Liberty Counsel, a Florida organization that has challenged same-sex marriages in other states. Monday Justice Kavanagh said that although a law against same-sex marriage might be unconstitutional, that was not the issue in the suit. The mayor, the judge said, cannot usurp the power of the town clerk and perform a marriage without a proper license. “It is for the clerk to decide, not the Mayor, whether an applicant has satisfied the licensing provisions of the Domestic Relations Law,” Kavanagh wrote. The judge noted that Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has concluded that same-sex couples cannot be granted marriage licenses under New York law. If a mayor could act against a law when he believed the law was unconstitutional, the judge wrote, it would have “profound and unsettling implications.” “This view, if accepted, would mean that the Mayor is a law unto himself and would in certain circumstances have power that is simply incompatible with a democratic form of government based on the rule of law,” the judge wrote. Kavanagh said the state Legislature or a court of competent jurisdiction had to decide whether a ban on same-sex marriages violates the state Constitution. E. Joshua Rosenkranz of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, who represents West, said the ruling would be appealed. “We disagree with Judge Kavanagh’s view that this case is only about a technical licensing provision,” he said in a statement. “The only reason any couple in this case was denied a marriage license was because they were of the same sex, and the only reason Mayor West acted was because the denial is unconstitutional.” Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of the Liberty Counsel, said in a statement: “All mayors throughout the United States should be on notice. An attempt to disregard the plain law of the land by elected officials should be viewed for what it is — illegal activity that must be brought to justice.” Rena Lindevaldsen of the Liberty Counsel litigated the case. Her organization brought the suit on behalf of Robert Habel, a member of New Paltz’s Board of Trustees.

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