New Paltz Mayor Jason West made four stops in Connecticut Tuesday to talk about how separate is not equal when it comes to civil unions and how party politics often keep politicians from doing what they want to do. Click here to read about his New Haven stop.West who made a name for himself as an advocate of same-sex marriage when he married 25 same-sex couples in 2004, said there’s a cultural weight that comes along with the institution of marriage. He said a civil union would be a demotion for a married couple. Connecticut’s civil union provision that became law in 2005 is not the equivalent of marriage, West said. Like any other constitutional issue, “It’s a matter of separate, but not equal.”
When West was planning the civil marriage of 25 couples in New Paltz, New York, Schenectady’s mayor was supposedly planning a similar same-sex marriage ceremony choosing to use a different provision in the law. But Schenectady’s mayor never held the ceremony, West said. In a follow up phone call, West said he learned that Schenectady’s mayor received a call from party bosses whom supposedly threatened that if the same-sex marriage ceremony moved forward his career would be put on hold. Although West’s actions were not without their consequences. In 2004 after he performed the ceremony West was charged with two dozen misdemeanors, which a court later dismissed. But the constitutional argument West used to conduct the ceremony was challenged in court. New York’s Appeals Court ruled against West in his constitutional challenge and decided the legislature was the appropriate branch of government to take up the issue. The court’s majority decision found lawmakers have an interest in protecting children by limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Even in the absence of scientific evidence to support that theory, the court ruled it was out of their jurisdiction to address. It found the legislature could proceed on the “commonsense premise that children will so best with a mother and father in the home.” Basically the court passed up a chance to rule on the issue and didn’t provide any reasons for their decision, West said. Same could be said for the mayor of Schenectady and dozens of other politicians who become slaves to the lure of incumbency and higher political gain. “Republicans and Democrats have been promising everything and delivering nothing,” for years, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton said. Major party politicians are too afraid to try new things because they don’t want to lose their seats, he said. For example, Thornton has proposed free public college tuition for all state residents. The proposal would likely face an uphill battle since he has proposed paying for it with lottery and casino revenues that currently fund a large portion of local budgets. Thornton has said by making this type of investment the state can grow jobs and give children from all socio-economic backgrounds the chance for a better life. Thornton and West made stops in Middletown, Hartford, and New Haven Tuesday. Thornton’s campaign paid for West’s visit to the state. Thornton is an advocate of same-sex marriage. His 24-year-old daughter who is a sworn police officer in the state is gay. The Democratic candidate for governor, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has said he is also in favor of same-sex marriage.