In 2001, Nyacker John Shields took a brave step forward—and out.
When elected as the village's mayor, he became one of New York State's first openly-gay officials. Shields also sued the Town of Orangetown and New York State unsuccessfully seven years ago, on grounds that then-current legislation did not allow him and his partner to marry.
Now—on the heels of the marriage equality law in New York—Shields will be the village's marriage officer for a one-year term. His duties will began July 24, the same day goes into effect.
Generally, a marriage officer is paid a wage or salary—but Shields has decided to provide the service free of charge.
"It's an issue of people's personal rights," explained Shields at Thursday night's board of trustees meeting in Nyack, where the announcement was made. "To me, it [is] about the rights of people to hospital visits, legal wills—all kinds of things."
Shields' successor, Richard Kavesh, congratulated the former mayor on the appointment. "We’ll be honored to have you conduct marriages of all kinds here in Nyack," he said.
On July 30, Kavesh will preside over free marriage ceremonies in Memorial Park. Local Reverend Sala Saran will marry all couples who turn up, free of charge, to celebrate New York's marriage equality.