As gay New Yorkers prepare for the arrival of marriage equality in the state—the city's clerk offices will be open on the big gay day, July 24th—a New York State clerk has resigned her post rather than place her name on a gay marriage license.
Laura L. Fotusky, a town clerk in the town of Barker in Broome County, may well be the first state clerk to do so. To announce her decision she wrote the following letter of resignation:
To the Town of Barker Board, Supervisor Dilworth, Attorney Lewis and the Town Residents,
I have been in contact with Jason McGuire from New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, our Town Attorney, Richard Lewis, and a Constitutional Lawyer regarding the Marriage Equality Act that was passed June 24, 2011. There was no protection provided in the legislation for Town Clerks who are unable to sign these marriage licenses due to personal religious convictions, even though our US Constitution supports freedom of religion.
I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’
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. Deuteronomy 10:12 says, ‘…What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.’
I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.
It has been a pleasure and privilege to serve the Town as Barker Town Clerk.
In the run up to the State Senate's vote on marriage equality, much was made of the religious exemptions added to it (and those that weren't added to it) and Fotusky's letter speaks to that. While exemptions were put in for religious institutions, some of those against gay marriage worry that the people not directly affiliated with any religious organizations (photographers are a common example) who still oppose the same-sex marriage will face legal troubles for their views in the coming years.
Meanwhile—in happier gay nups news—the Times today has an interesting story on the history of the marriage waiting period in New York. While the story is mostly a reason to explain how the city is getting around the waiting period on the first day of marriage equality (lots and lots of judges with waivers!) it provides some interesting history we did not know. For instance? Between 1970 and 1981 the wait for a marriage license in New York was ten days!