A town clerk in Cayuga County has informed her town board that because of her religious beliefs, she does not believe she can sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, according to a member of the board.
Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti submitted a letter to the Ledyard Town Board saying that her religious beliefs prevented her from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples and the board discussed Belforti’s letter at Monday’s meeting, according to John Binns, a member of the town board.
... Belforti’s decision was criticized by supporters of same-sex marriage.
Cathy Marino-Thomas, board president of Marriage Equality New York, said Belforti isn’t practicing “good leadership” by trying to pass the responsibilities off to a deputy clerk.
“The law says that everyone has a right to marry in New York state,” she said by phone. “If [Belforti] doesn’t want to obey the law, she needs to get another job.
On the other hand:
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group opposing same-sex marriage, launched the “Courage Fund” as a way to help clerks who feel their religious beliefs prevent them from signing same-sex marriage licenses.
On the NYFCF website, there is a memo from the Alliance Defense Fund outlining how clerks can request an exemption to accommodate their religious beliefs.
The memo cites a state law which requires employers to “accommodate an employee’s religious observance or practice.”
For clerks, according to the ADF memo, this should allow them to delegate the signing of marriage licenses to a deputy clerk.
Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said about a dozen clerks have reached out to him to see what their options are now that same-sex marriage is legal.