Clerk Won’t Sign Marriage License

New York may have legalized same-sex marriage, but not everyone supports it

Picture it: It’s your big day and you’re ready to say “I do” to the person you’ve been with for five months, five years or 25 years thanks to a new law that legalizes same-sex marriage. Only problem is the clerk in your town refuses to sign your marriage license.

That’s exactly what happened in Cayugay County New York – southwest of Syracuse. The Auburn Citizen reports that the Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti submitted a letter to to the town board saying that her religious beliefs prevent her from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Board President John Binns told the newspaper that he has “mixed feelings” about the request, and that while he believes it is her job to sign the licenses, there may be a law that allows Belforti to avoid having to do it. According to the report, Binns says he will “support whatever the laws are.”

This likely does not give much consolation to same-sex couples who have won the right to marry only to face opponents in their own backyards. Apparently there could be an exception that allows clerks to pass off the responsibility based on religious freedom – something the Alliance Defense Fund in New York touts on its website.

At least two other town clerks have not wanted to sign licenses for same-sex couples since marriage was legalized this summer. They were forced to resign for not being able to perform their duties. Others – as many as a dozen, according to New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, a group opposing gay marriage – have requested information on how the job they can avoid signing these licenses.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was a tireless advocate for same-sex marriage, isn’t pleased by the clerks who are refusing to do their jobs. When a clerk quit over gay marriage recently, he said, “The law is the law. When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws.”