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Another city backs
same-sex marriage

On the heels of 25 same-sex weddings in a college town near New York City, the mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., announced today she will accept marriage license applications from homosexual couples.

Ithaca, N.Y., Mayor Carolyn Peterson (Photo: News 10 Now Syracuse)

Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson said same-sex weddings will not be performed, but the city will accept license applications and forward them to the state Health Department, reported News 10 Now, the Syracuse, N.Y., cable network.

Last Friday, Jason West, mayor of New Paltz, about 75 miles north of New York City, solemnized 25 same-sex marriages and put another 500 names on a waiting list. The town is the home of the State University of New York at New Paltz.

San Francisco, under Mayor Gavin Newsom’s order, issued the first officially sanctioned marriage licenses to same-sex couples in American history Feb. 12. More than 3,400 ceremonies have been conducted since then. About a week later, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid intervened to stop a clerk in Bernalillo, N.M., who began issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

New York’s Health Department says same-sex marriages are illegal, but Peterson vows the city and its attorney will fight the decision if the applications are denied.

“Same-sex couples deserve the equal protection of the law, the same as any other couple,” she told reporters. “They deserve to be able to bring their families out of the status of second-class citizenship and into the full array of rights and responsibilities that are available to married couples.”

This morning, two couples applied for licenses, which already are being forwarded to the Health Department, News 10 Now said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of about 50 homosexual couples have announced they will apply for licenses at New York City’s clerk’s office Thursday.

Yesterday, about 400 activists gathered in front of City Hall to demand Mayor Michael Bloomberg allow same-sex marriages.

“In this city of tolerance, diversity and unity it is past time that Mayor Michael Bloomberg give the civil right of marriage to same-sex couples and immediately instruct the city clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller.

Bloomberg says he opposes same-sex marriage but also is against a constitutional amendment that would ban it.

The mayor’s spokesman, Ed Skyler, said the city clerk is following state law and urged advocates to “spend their time persuading Albany to change the law, rather than calling on the city clerk to break it.”

New York’s attorney general has not addressed the issue. The New York legislature is considering a ban on same-sex marriage, similar to legislation passed by at least 37 states.

Last month, President Bush announced support for a federal marriage amendment.

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