by Jeremy Leaming
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a marriage equality measure into law this summer it included language allowing religious institutions and other nonprofits to refuse to wed same-sex couples, but did not include an out for public officials, such as town clerks.
But as The New York Times recently noted the town clerk in Ledyard, N.Y. is refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, citing evangelical Christianity as a bar against performing her official duties.
“For me to participate in the same-sex marriage application process I don’t feel is right,” Rose Marie Belforti told The Times. “God doesn’t want me to do this, so I can’t do what God doesn’t want me to do, just like I can’t steal, or any of the other things that God doesn’t want me to do.”
Belforti’s refusal to issue a marriage license to Deirdre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael, however, did not set well with the couple of ten years, who told the newspaper they were not going to let the discrimination stand.
The national civil liberties group, People For the American Way Foundation, and the New York law firm, Proskauer Rose LLP have lodged a letter with Ledyard town officials calling on them to force Belforti to start issuing marriage licenses pursuant to the state’s Marriage Equality Act, or resign her position.
The letter states, in part, “Ms. Belfoti is no longer issuing any marriage licenses – an essential duty of her elected office – at the town’s direction, or, at a minimum, with the town’s acquiescence. The actions of both Ms. Belforti and the town are in violation of New York law.”