The New York government’s recognition of “gay marriage” has caused a religious town clerk to resign because she cannot in good conscience sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that those who cannot recognize “gay marriages” should not hold those positions.
“When you enforce the laws of the state, you don't get to pick and choose the laws,” the governor said at a July 12 press conference. “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.”
“So if you can't enforce the law, then you shouldn't be in that position,” Cuomo said, according to the New York Daily News.
Laura Fotusky, 56, the town clerk in Barker, New York, submitted a resignation letter that said she will step down on July 21, three days before New York becomes the sixth state to legally recognize same-sex unions as legal marriages.
“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,” Fotusky wrote. “I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure.”
Fotusky is the first New York clerk to resign over the issue, Reuters reports. Two weeks ago the town clerk in the Syracuse suburb of Volney requested outside help to sign same-sex “marriage” licenses, citing her own religious objections.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic Democrat, had pushed through recognition of the unions over the objections of many religious believers including the Catholic Church. Opponents had predicted the law would cause difficulties for those with religious or moral objections to the unions.
Fotusky spoke about her resignation with the New York newspaper the Press & Sun Bulletin.
“I feel like the personal rights of our people in this nation and in this state have not been protected so that we can stand by our religious convictions and do we feel is right before God, and I had to choose between my God and my job,” she said. “It was a struggle for me.”
She had researched whether there were any provisions allowing her to stay in her position in good conscience but could not find any.
“I am not protected enough for me to be able to stay. So I’ve made my choice, and no one means to me what Jesus means,” she said.
Fotusky, a Republican, was appointed town clerk in 2007. She ran unopposed in 2008 and again in 2010.
“It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve the town as Barker Town Clerk,” she said in her resignation letter.
She is the latest of many local officials who have had to consider whether they can cooperate in the recognition of same-sex unions.
In Massachusetts more than a dozen justices of the peace threatened to resign in 2004 after a state court ruled that the constitution required the recognition of homosexual “marriages.” At least one did resign, Reuters reported. In Vermont in 2000, a town clerk resigned even though state law would have allowed her to appoint someone else to sign civil unions licenses.
Robin Fretwell Wilson, a professor at Washington and Lee Law School in Virginia, has advocated that lawmakers in New York and other states exempt individuals, including government employees, from providing services to same-sex couples so long as this poses no hardship.
“Forcing a public employee with a religious objection to facilitate a same-sex marriage would be intolerant in the extreme when little is to be gained by such rigid demands,” Wilson wrote in a 2010 paper.