Denying same-sex couples equal marriage rights was against the wording of the US constitution, a New York court ruled yesterday.

Reuters and other agencies reported the New Paltz State Court dismissed charges against Mayor Jason West, who had granted marriage licenses to 20 same-sex couples from his small New York state town in February.

The Judge ruled prosecutors had failed to prove the charges against West were Constitutional. He also ruled the State had not demonstrated a significant interest in banning gay marriage.

West faced a year in jail if found guilty.

Mayor West’s legal representative Joshua Rosenkranz said the ruling was an official step in the march towards full equality for gays and lesbians in New York State, Reuters reported.

It is the first time that any court in this state has declared that same-sex couples have the same rights, same status, and same dignity as every other citizen.

A similar legal challenge against San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected later this year. Newsom gave marriage licenses to hundreds of same-sex couples earlier this year.

The New York court decision follows the legalisation of gay and lesbian marriages in Massachusetts.

Two other charges against West have not yet been heard.

The District Attorney from Ulster County told AP he would appeal the decision.

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