Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has for years refused to give his personal views on same-sex marriage, has told members of a gay and lesbian group that he thinks state law should be changed to legalize it.
Members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Assn. said the mayor took that stand Thursday night as he addressed their private dinner in a Manhattan home.
Among an estimated 70 people at the benefit was Pamela Strother, the group's executive director, who said Bloomberg clearly stated that he thought the law "should be changed."
When first contacted about the speech, mayoral spokesman Ed Skyler said he had been told that the mayor said nothing different than in his earlier pronouncements. But after hours of media inquiries, Skyler made no attempt to deny the reports of what Bloomberg said.
He then unexpectedly released videotape of an interview to be aired Sunday on WPIX in New York in which Bloomberg moves closer to endorsing gay marriage.
"On the word 'marriage,' the definition, I guess I've kind of gone back and forth in my mind," Bloomberg said in the interview. "I think the term marriage is what's polarizing people. In terms of the rights of two people when they get together, I think that should not be a function of their gender."
Meanwhile, a New York state judge Friday barred the mayor of a college town from performing more same-sex marriages for a month, saying he was ignoring his oath of office.
New York Justice Vincent Bradley issued a temporary restraining order against Jason West, the 26-year-old mayor of New Paltz, at the request of the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, which acted on behalf of a local resident.
"The mayor in substance ignores the oath of office that he took to uphold the law," Bradley said.
West insisted he was upholding his oath of office to uphold the Constitution.
"But in our system of constitutional government, judges have the last word," West said in a prepared statement. "I intend to fully abide by the judge's decision. And I am considering legal options."
In Oregon, meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed Friday by the Defense of Marriage Coalition two days after officials in Multnomah County began sanctioning gay weddings. The group contends that county commissioners violated the state public meetings law by agreeing privately among themselves to change county policy. The group also argues that Oregon law clearly defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
The coalition, organized by Republicans, appeared to get support from Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who said a debate on gay marriage was needed. In his State of the State address, he asked Oregonians to "step back and take a deep breath and give the process a chance to work."
Kulongoski also noted he expected a legal opinion soon from Oregon Atty. Gen. Hardy Myers.
Also Friday, lawmakers in Wisconsin and Kansas pushed ahead with efforts to amend their states' constitutions to ban gay marriage, while a similar measure died in Idaho.
The proposal approved by the Wisconsin Assembly 68-27 would prohibit same-sex marriages and civil unions. It now goes to the state Senate. More approval from lawmakers and voters also would be required for it to become law.
In Kansas, the House voted 88-36 for an amendment to ban gay marriages and the granting of benefits associated with marriage to other relationships. It would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate and a majority in the November election to become part of the constitution.
The Idaho proposal, which would have banned gay marriages, failed on a 20-13 vote to come out of committee. Amendment opponents emphasized during the debate that the state had already passed a law in 1996 banning gay marriage.