VOLNEY, New York, June 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While religious organizations in New York are allowed not to participate in gay “marriage,” the same right of conscience has been denied to individual citizens – an injustice that one rural town clerk is fighting against.
Town clerk Barbara MacEwen is responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Volney, near Syracuse. She told Politico Tuesday that she has written to her senator asking for help determining her legal options.
“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,” MacEwen told the political news service. “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.”
Sen. Patty Ritchie, MacEwen’s senator, opposes same-sex “marriage” but supports recognizing homosexual unions deemed marriage in other states.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a Roman Catholic, on Friday night signed a law passed by the Republican-led Senate; it passed largely thanks to the governor’s own efforts organizing the strategy of the state’s gay lobby. The law will make New York the sixth U.S. state to recognize homosexual “marriage,” in addition to the District of Columbia, when the law takes effect July 24.
In areas that permit same-sex “marriage,” the conscience rights of public employees handling marriage licenses have been routinely trampled.
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.
Same-sex “marriage” activists have routinely fought against an opt-out for such officials as constituting a form of discrimination, even when based in the individual’s religion.
“A clear message has been sent out that those people providing public services … have a duty to treat services users equally, with dignity and respect, as the public authority itself must,” said Andrew Copson, head of the British Humanist Association, in response to the U.K. ruling.
“In a modern liberal democracy, there can be no ‘opt out’ for those who say they are unable to do their jobs because they wish to discriminate, even when that desire to discriminate derives from a religious belief.”