UU clergy acquitted in marriages
A town judge in New Paltz, New York, has dismissed criminal charges against two Unitarian Universalist ministers for marrying 13 same-sex couples in February and March. The Rev. Kay Greenleaf of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Poughkeepsie and the Rev. Dawn Sangrey, of the Fourth Unitarian Society of Westchester in Mohegan Lake, were the first ministers in the nation to face criminal prosecution in connection with same-sex marriage.
They were charged with solemnizing marriages for couples not having marriage licenses, a misdemeanor. Although UU ministers have been conducting religious ceremonies for same-sex couples for decades, Greenleaf and Sangrey said publicly that the ceremonies they performed in New Paltz were civil marriage ceremonies. Instead of signing marriage licenses they signed notarized affidavits of marriage.
The charges were declared unconstitutional July 13 by Justice Judith Reichler who wrote, “If it is unconstitutional to prohibit same-sex couples from obtaining marriage licenses, it is unconstitutional to charge defendants with a crime for marrying same-sex couples who are unable to obtain marriage licenses.” The assistant district attorney had argued that marriage was “traditionally” only for men and women.Said Greenleaf, “It may not be a landmark case, but it feels like we pushed the issue of same-sex marriage along a little further.”