NY clerk quits over marriage equality
Michael De Dora
Posted on July 14, 2011
A town clerk in upstate New York has quit her job in order to avoid having to sign marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, according to news reports.
Laura Fotusky wrote in her resignation letter that she would step down as town clerk on July 21, three days before New York becomes the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage. Her reasoning was based solely on religious belief.
Fotusky was not immediately available for comment, but in her letter, dated July 11, she said she believes the Bible takes precedence over man-made laws.
“The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God. … I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure.”
The extent to which the government should recognize religious objections to same-sex marriage has been a topic of heated debate. While most state-level same-sex marriage legislation exempts private religious groups from performing marriages, it also requires government employees to follow the law (this is the case in New York). As explained by Gov. Andrew Cuomo:
Cuomo … told reporters that he agreed with Fotusky’s decision to resign because government workers have a responsibility to enforce the law.
“When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose the laws,” Cuomo said.
Fotusky is the first clerk in New York to resign over objections to same-sex marriage (a town clerk in Syracuse has also cited religious objections, but said she will follow the law). I expect more government employees wil voice their objections, but given the poor state of the economy, I think most people will swallow their morals and continue doing their job.