Same Sex Marriage and Civil Rights In The Hudson Valley

All citizens deserve equal treatment

New York Journal News Letter to the Editor
(Original publication: January 3, 2006)

As an estate planning attorney working with people from all walks of life, I see on an almost daily basis the inequality that same-sex and unmarried partners face in our "free and just" society. The unfortunate same-sex benefits debate in New Rochelle is but another example of the fundamental economic unfairness our lesbian and gay citizens face in merely wanting to live their lives and in exercising their right to equal treatment under the law.

It is time to stop the "Torquemada" approach to our neighbors and friends. There are much more pressing issues to consider such as biological and nuclear terrorism which, if one of them comes to your home town, will render the same-sex rights debate academic.

Ted Frerking, Ossining

 News Articles

  • June 1, 2006 - NY Times
    ALBANY, May 31 — As the issue of gay marriage finally reached New York State's highest court on Wednesday, the six judges who heard the passionate arguments from both sides put forth a fundamental question: Has marriage been defined by history, culture and tradition since the dawn of Western civilization, or is it an evolving social institution that should change with the times? [read more]
  • May 18, 2006 - NY Journal News
    I would like to invite everyone to the wedding of my son to his fiancé, another wonderful young man. It will be a traditional Jewish ceremony: They will be surrounded by family and friends as they stand together under the marriage canopy, recite ancient texts and publicly commit their love and commitment to each other. We will kiss and hug, eat and drink, and dance the night away celebrating their new life ahead as a family. [read more]
  • April 11, 2006 - Danbury News Times
    "There are so many little details in one's life that are affected by the terminology of civil union versus marriage,'' Howell said. "As a gay person in a relationship, my responsibility is to have all the appropriate forms all the time. If we cross state lines, I have no rights.'' [read more]
  • April 4, 2006 - Christian Science Monitor
    BOSTON - In ruling that same-sex couples from states that do not allow gay marriage cannot marry in Massachusetts, the state's highest court dramatically narrowed the current battleground in the gay-marriage debate to a handful of states. [read more]
  • March 27, 2006 - NY Journal News
    Gay couples who lost their fight to marry in Rockland 18 months ago will appeal the ruling today in state Supreme Court. The couples, who became known as "The Nyack 10," include Nyack Mayor John Shields and his partner. Shields said he was not optimistic about the outcome, but would still go to the Second Appellate Division in Brooklyn today to pursue the case. [read more]
  • March 6, 2006 - New York Times
    In a closed-door meeting this week in an undisclosed site near Baltimore, a committee of Jewish legal experts who set policy for Conservative Judaism will consider whether to lift their movement's ban on gay rabbis and same-sex unions. [read more]
  • March 3, 2006 - wire
    London, UK - A battleship in the Royal Navy will host its first gay wedding later this week as a senior Navy officer is taking advantage of the United Kingdom’s recent legalization of civil unions by tying the knot with his longtime boyfriend. [read more]
  • March 3, 2006 - NY Times
    SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) -- A veteran Presbyterian minister told a church judicial panel that she knew the faith's position on gay marriage, yet felt called by God and her conscience to call the unions between two lesbian couples marriage anyway. [read more]
  • January 31, 2006 - NY Times
    UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 26 — Human rights organizations and the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus protested on Thursday a decision by the Bush administration to back a measure introduced by Iran denying two gay rights groups a voice at the United Nations. [read more]
  • January 5, 2006 - Rutland (VT) Herald
    So perhaps the time has come to admit what civil union opponents have said all along. You may recall how some lawmakers who voted against the civil union law in 2000 had rubber ducks on their desks. Their message: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck. Calling legalized gay relationships "civil unions" doesn't disguise what they really are: marriages. [read more]
  • December 27, 2005 - New York Journal News
    The benefits these four people are trying to rescind are already in place, already have employees requesting them, and are protecting the families of all New Rochelle employees, not only those that have the legal right to marry. [read more]

The Complete News Archives is Here

Other Links:

Sometimes you've got to take action and this is one of those times. Mayor Jason West of New Paltz has been marrying same-sex couples since President George Bush declared his support for a Constitutional Amendment banning them. When I wrote about this issue on February 19th, I never expected such a response!

On March 2nd, 2004, Ulster County D.A. Donald Williams filed criminal charges against the Mayor for "solemnizing a marriage without a license" and it is imperative that we publicly support the Mayor regardless of the legal outcome.

Below are the email addresses for some local newspapers. If there are any missing please email them to me for addition here. You'll also find a sample letter in support of the Mayor and articles about the issue.

On March 3rd the Poughkeepsie Journal ran an editorial that reads in part:

"We believe there is no sound legal reason for the government to prohibit gay couples from having the same rights and liberties as straight couples.

They must be given equal protection under the law. Allowing them to marry should be part of that protection."

And the NY Journal News wrote on March 4th:

"New York's Legislature, urged on by the governor, should take a stand on the side of fairness and equality. The lawmakers should assuage any doubts that New York champions liberty over bigotry by voting to remove any statutory bars to gay marriage in New York."

Less than two hours from New York City, New Paltz -- the village, town and state university -- attracts wide diversity in social makeup, sexual orientation and ethnic heritage. On the fringe where New York state's rural divide meets a Manhattan-infused, metropolitan and suburban sprawl, New Paltz maintains a frontier spirit that over centuries has not lost its edge. [read more]

Congresswoman Sue Kelly supports the proposed Consitutional Amendment
to ban Gay Marriages

Contact Mrs. Kelly:

21 Old Main Street
Room 107
Fishkill, NY 12524
Phone: (845) 897-5200
Fax: (845) 897-5800

Judge Reichkler's Decision:

I find that “tradition” is not a legitimate state interest, and that prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying is not rationally related to furthering the state’s legitimate interest in providing a favorable environment for procreation and child-rearing. Accordingly, the criminal charges against the defendants must be dismissed. Discussion follows. [read more]

NYS Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's March 5th, 2004 opinion:

Mayor West believes strongly in this issue, and is committed to continuing his support for same sex marriages. At the same time, Mayor West understands his duties as a public official, and that those who are elected to office have a responsibility to demonstrate, through words and actions, a commitment to upholding the law.

[read more]

Important Links

Jason West
New Paltz Mayor
Jason West

Media Addresses and Contact Information

HVAN Discussions <>,,
Subject: [DutchessPeace] Same sex marriage and Hudson Valley Greens
Date: February 19, 2004

[Please Forward]


With the Village of New Paltz in Green hands one needs to wonder why village Mayor Jason West does not take a cue from the City of San Francisco and order the Village Clerk to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples
under the equal rights provision of the NY State Constitution. Even if California courts order that city to cease and desist, an east coast opening would send a clear message to other municipalities across the nation - that equal rights mean EQUAL rights.

Call or write Mayor West and ask him to start the ball rolling here in the Hudson Valley. He's got the power to do so and ought to use it.

Phone: (845) 255-1413


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Thursday June 1, 2006