A New York district attorney filed criminal charges yesterday against two Unitarian Universalist ministers for performing same-sex weddings, the first attempted prosecution in the United States of clergy for marrying gay couples, the Washington Post reports.
Ulster County District Attorney Donald A. Williams brought the charges against the Rev. Kay Greenleaf and the Rev. Dawn Sangrey, who performed 13 same-sex marriages in a scenic field in New Paltz, N.Y., two weekends ago. Williams previously filed identical charges against New Paltz Mayor Jason West.
Dozens of rabbis and ministers across New York state responded to the charges by pledging to continue performing same-sex religious ceremonies, even at the risk of arrest. As of yesterday afternoon, 83 ordained clergy had signed the pledge, which began with 20 signers last Thursday, according to Rabbi Ayelet Cohen of New York City’s Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the world’s largest gay Jewish congregation.
“We absolutely are prepared to be arrested for this, because it’s a matter of justice,” Cohen said.