States Weigh Same-Sex Marriage

A state judge on Friday barred the mayor of a college town from performing more same-sex marriages for a month, saying Jason West (search) was ignoring his oath of office.

Justice Vincent Bradley (search) issued a temporary restraining order against the 26-year-old New Paltz mayor at the request of the Florida-based Liberty Council (search), 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.

San Francisco officials, meanwhile, headed for court to make a case for defying California's law against gay marriage, and a coalition sued to stop Oregon's most populous county from sanctioning same-sex weddings.

Also Friday, lawmakers in Wisconsin and Kansas pushed ahead with efforts to amend their states' constitutions to ban the practice, while a similar measure died in Idaho.

The New York court ruling came as Gov. George Pataki said the state would be ready to crack down on any public official who performed a wedding without a marriage license.

West performed his first spate of 25 same-sex marriages a week ago, drawing his village 75 miles north of New York City into a fast-spreading debate over gay marriage that has roosted in communities from Long Island to Portland, Ore.

West had said earlier Friday that he was putting off a second round of same-sex marriages planned for Saturday so he could consult with state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. But West had said he only planned to postpone the weddings for a week.

A call to West's office seeking comment on Bradley's ruling was not immediately returned.

Lawyers for San Francisco planned Friday to answer efforts by California's attorney general and gay marriage opponents to invalidate its same-sex marriages. The lawyers expected to tell the state Supreme Court that nothing in the state constitution requires local officials to obey laws they believe are unconstitutional.

The Oregon lawsuit was filed 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.

"We would rather have a debate through the democratic process, but we were not given that choice," said Kelly Clark, an attorney for the coalition.

The legislative actions came two days after Utah's Legislature agreed to put its own anti-gay marriage amendment before voters.

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 would also 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 majority of the vote in November 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.

Fourteen states are seeking this year to amend their constitutions to ban same-sex marriages. States in recent years have already acted broadly in opposition to the prospect of same-sex marriages, passing so-called Defense of Marriage laws in 38 states. And four have already amended their own constitutions to define marriage as between a man and a woman.