ALBANY, New York, July 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Reacting to the news that the first New York State town clerk has resigned rather than sign her name on a same-sex “marriage” license, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted Tuesday that “the law is the law.”
“When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws,” he said, according to the NY Daily News. “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,” he added.
Laura Fotusky, a clerk in the town of Barker, announced her resignation Monday on the website of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. “I cannot put my signature on something that is against God,” she wrote in her resignation letter. “The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures.”
“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure,” she added.
Fotusky, who was first appointed in 2007, said she will resign as of July 21st, three days before the law takes effect. “I had to choose between my God and my job,” she told PressConnects.
Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “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.”
The state legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act on June 24th, making it the sixth U.S. state to recognize homosexual “marriage,” in addition to the District of Columbia.
Within days, a town clerk in Volney, near Syracuse, announced that she was fighting to protect her right not to sign the licenses. “If there’s any possible way to not do it legally, then yes, I would not want to put my name on any of those certificates or papers,” Barbara MacEwen told Politico. “That’s their life, they can do it, but I don’t feel I should be forced into something that’s against my morals and my God.”
As a result of MacEwen’s effort, however, the district attorney in Nassau County sent a letter to town and city clerks last week warning that they would face criminal prosecution if they refused to sign the licenses.
The Marriage Equality Act “affords no discretion to public officials charged with granting marriage licenses,” wrote Kathleen Rice.
“The religious exemptions in the Marriage Equality Act are inapplicable to town and city clerks serving in their license-granting roles,” she continued, “and a public official’s intentional refusal to issue marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples may constitute Official Misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor defined in section 195.00 of the New York State Penal Law.”
Gov. Cuomo told reporters Tuesday that the law takes precedence over public officials’ religious beliefs. “If you’re saying you’re going to act through your religious beliefs rather than what is the law of the state, then you can’t operate in a position where you’re supposed to be enforcing the laws, right?” he said, according to NY Daily News. “Because the laws would have to be paramount, and would have to be paramount to your religious beliefs.”
The conscience rights of public employees handling marriage licenses have been routinely trampled in jurisdictions where same-sex “marriages” are permitted.
When gay “marriage” was introduced in California in 2008, several counties closed their offices to wedding ceremonies rather than face legal repercussions for refusing to cater to homosexual couples.
In the U.K., a Christian registrar met with defeat after years of litigation, after her employer threatened to fire her for rearranging her schedule in order not to participate in the granting of marriage licenses to homosexuals.
Earlier this year in Saskatchewan, Canada, the provincial government decided not to appeal a court ruling that said marriage commissioners in the province were not permitted to opt-out of performing gay “marriages.” The court had said that allowing commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex “marriages” would send “a strong and sinister message” that “gays and lesbians are less worthy of protection as individuals in Canada’s society.”
In a district of Amsterdam, where gay “marriage” has been legally recognized since 2007, marriage commissioners are slated to undergo a yearly review to ensure full cooperation with the change, after two employees were suspected of resistance.