NEW PALTZ, N.Y., March 2 (UPI) -- The mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., was charged with 19 violations of New York's domestic relations law Tuesday for presiding over same-sex marriages.
Jason West, the 26-year-old Green Party mayor, was ordered to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges that he broke state law by solemnizing about two dozen weddings without the couples obtaining a marriage license, according to New Paltz police and West's lawyer.
The mayor faces up a $500 fine and a year in jail for his actions which have attracted international attention and brought the fight over gay marriages squarely into New York, Newsday reported.
West said earlier on Tuesday that it was his "moral obligation" to issue marriage certificates to gay couples, CNN reported.
West said the issue was one of civil rights as well as morality.
"Separate but equal didn't work for blacks and whites, and it doesn't work for gays and straight people," he said.
West said that President Bush's support of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages "gave me even more conviction in marrying same-sex couples."