Town Mayor Charged in Gay Weddings

The village's mayor was charged Tuesday with 19 criminal counts for performing weddings for gay couples, an act of defiance that thrust the small community into the center of the national debate over same-sex marriage.

Jason West was charged with solemnizing marriages for couples who had no licenses, a misdemeanor under the domestic relations law, according to Ulster County Dist. Atty. Donald Williams.

Although West could face a maximum penalty of a year in jail, the prosecutor said a jail term wasn't being contemplated at this point.

The 26-year-old Green Party mayor said he would plead not guilty at his court hearing today and that he would still go through with his plans to marry as many as two dozen gay couples Saturday.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," West said.

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