February 28, 2010

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Commemoration of 2004 New Paltz same-sex weddings

West address advocates

NEW PALTZ – A group of advocates for same-sex marriage braved the aftermath of this week’s storm and gathered outside New Paltz Village Hall Saturday to rally for marriage equality rights in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the same-sex marriages performed in unison with ceremonies in San Francisco.

“It has been frustrating that New York is so far behind some of even our neighboring states in recognizing marriage equality,” said former Mayor of New Paltz Jason West, who was the official presiding over the same-sex marriages that took place back in 2004. “But, I still believe, as I did six years ago, that it’s just a matter of time. This is inevitable.”

Former Mayor West video (Provided by Rosenbaum Media)

West called the New York State Senate’s decision rejecting same-sex marriages, made recently in December, “an embarrassment” to the state that prides itself on being progressive.

Marriage Equality New York Board President Cathy Marino-Thomas told protesters that the struggle for equal rights in marriage is still going down a positive road and it is important to celebrate the victories rather than dwell on the losses.

She said that it is the decision makers in Albany who were the focus of Saturday’s rally. “It didn’t fail in the Senate because it’s not the right thing to do; it failed in the Senate because of political gaming that has nothing at all to do with marriage equality.”

Marino-Thomas said they applaud the 24 senators who voted. “We are putting the 38 Senators that voted no on notice that we are going to push this issue and we are going to push our right to be heard.”

As a member of one of the couples who were married under an umbrella of controversy in 2004, High Falls resident Jay Blotcher celebrated what he dubbed an “unhappy anniversary” at Saturday’s rally saying. “I will continue to tell my personal story to anyone who feels that they can deny me my rights as an American, as a taxpayer, and a Hudson Valley resident.”

Also married back in 2004 was Clintondale resident Billiam van Roestenberg, who felt that on a larger scale, the United States has always been a beacon of hope throughout the world and now with issues like marriage equality people are starting to look down on the nation as a whole.

He said that it is time for politicians to end “gay apartheid” and put their personal religious beliefs aside in order to serve their constituents.

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