N.Y. Town Clerk Quits Over Marriage Equality Law
BY Julie Bolcer
July 13 2011 12:35 PM ET
A town clerk in rural New York has resigned her position rather than comply with the new marriage equality law, citing her religious convictions.
Politico reports on the resignation announced Tuesday by Laura Fotusky, the clerk in Barker, a small town near Binghamton in upstate New York. A Republican elected twice to the post, she issued a statement on the website of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group of evangelical Protestants that led protests against the bill, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last month.
“Fotusky, whose resignation is effective July 21, three days before legal gay marriage takes effect in New York, said she has no plans after she leaves her office, which paid $24,205 last year,” according to Politico.
In her letter, Fotusky cited her religious beliefs, saying, “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.”
She also argued that the religious exemptions in the law, which protect religious institutions that do not wish to solemnize same-sex weddings or provide facilities for the celebrations, are inadequate. The exemptions, which have met with approval from LGBT legal and civil rights groups, resulted from last-minute negotiations between the Cuomo administration and a trio of Republican senators. One of the lawmakers, Stephen Saland, joined three other members of his conference in voting for the bill.
“There was no protection provided in the legislation for town clerks who are unable to sign these marriage licenses due to personal religious convictions, even though our U.S. Constitution supports freedom of religion,” said Fotusky.
"It is unfortunate that when state senators were busy protecting liberal special interests and padding their campaign accounts, that they failed to protect good people of faith,” said the Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, which has been in contact with Fotusky about the law. The group plans to protest on July 24, the first day that same-sex couples will be eligible to marry in New York.
Cuomo, a former state attorney general who expressed respect for religious freedom while campaigning for marriage equality, said Tuesday that the clerk took the appropriate action by resigning.
"You don't get to say, 'I like this law and I'll enforce this law, or I don't like this law and I won't enforce this law' — you can't do that," he said, according to the New York Daily News.
Fotusky is the second town clerk to express opposition to the new law, according to Politico. Barbara MacEwen, the clerk in Volney, said last month that she would not issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but she later arranged for deputy clerks to sign the documents.