- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — The mayor of the nation’s largest city says homosexual couples deserve the same rights in civil unions that heterosexual couples enjoy in marriage, but he will continue to enforce New York state’s ban on same-sex “marriage.”

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s statement, reversing his previous refusal to discuss his position on homosexual “marriage,” came the same week that dozens of same-sex couples seeking “marriage” licenses were turned away by the city clerk and that state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer held that homosexual “marriages” are prohibited by state law.

Mr. Bloomberg said he goes “back and forth” on whether same-sex “marriages” should be allowed, but believes these couples deserve equality.

“Personally, I’ve always thought that civil unions should have exactly the same rights as marriage,” Mr. Bloomberg said during an interview broadcast on WPIX-TV. “I don’t think you should discriminate against anybody.”

The mayor of New Paltz, north of New York City, performed 25 same-sex ceremonies a week ago. Mayor Jason West faces 19 criminal counts and could face jail time, but agreed to abide by a ruling that temporarily barred him from performing any more same-sex “marriages.”

Still, Mr. West’s decision didn’t stop homosexual “wedding” ceremonies from taking place in his village during the weekend.

About two dozen same-sex couples gathered in a packed tent in a private parking lot on the village’s Main Street to be “married” by local Unitarian ministers.

Unitarian ministers have been performing homosexual “marriages” across the country for years. Saturday’s weddings were not legally sanctioned.

In New York City, the homosexual rights group Lambda Legal filed suit Friday in state court seeking the right for same-sex couples to become legally “wed.”

“This is the whole enchilada,” said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of the group. “We seek, and intend to win, full marriage for gay and lesbian couples across New York — nothing more and nothing less.”

More than 3,600 same-sex “marriages” have been performed in San Francisco in the past three weeks, and hundreds of homosexual couples were granted wedding licenses in Portland, Ore., last week.

Mr. Bloomberg said during the interview that the word “marriage” had led to much of the controversy surrounding the issue that has arisen since San Francisco began performing homosexual “marriages” in February.

New York is among 12 states without laws explicitly defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

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