People for the American Way has called for the resignation of a town clerk in Upstate New York because she has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On Aug. 30, Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti refused to issue a license to a lesbian couple. Ledyard is southwest of Syracuse in the Finger Lakes Region of the state.
Because of her opposition to marriage equality, Belforti delegated the job of issuing all marriage licenses to a subordinate. She turned the couple away and said they’d have to return another day.
In an interview with the right-wing Christian website CitizenLink, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family. Belforti said she objects to same-sex marriage because it could lead to bestiality. Ironically, the site used a picture of the clerk with her cow.
The women turned to PFAW.
“If a public official simply decides to shirk the obligations of her office, then she should resign and be replaced by someone who will do the job and carry out state law. Enforcement of the Marriage Equality Act is not subject to the opinion of town clerks – it is the right of all New Yorkers,” said PFAW President Michael Keegan.
The town will decide if the clerk will be replaced for shirking her duties and PFAW is considering legal action.
The group argues that town clerks do not have the right to decide which state laws to follow and which state licenses to issue. A clerk who does not believe in hunting doesn’t have the right to refuse to issue hunting licenses. And no one is asking the clerk to attend the wedding. Just issue the license. That’s what she ran for office to do.
Her defense is that New York law requires employers to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and the town would have to accept hers. She said she will seek the help of Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative legal group.
UPDATE: From the Syracuse Post-Standard, Auburn City Clerk Debby McCormick agreed with Dallas Voice about issuing hunting licenses even if you don’t like hunting.
“We took an oath to uphold the state constitution. We’re supposed to treat everyone the same, it’s part of our job,” McCormick said. “I don’t like to hunt or fish but I issue hunting and fishing licenses.”
Because Belforti is an elected official, she cannot be fired by the town even though the couple is proceeding with their lawsuit.