New York Marriage Equality Set to Begin, Minus Two Clerks

Municipal clerks around New York State are gearing up for a busy Sunday as the state’s new marriage equality law goes into effect. The state is expecting such a flood of same-sex applicants that day that New York City has even implemented a lottery for 764 slots for Sunday.

Two clerks who won’t be busy will be Rosemary Centi of Guilderland and Laura Fotusky of Barker. Both women have quit their jobs, saying granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates their religious liberty.

“I believe that God designed marriage as a divine institution to protect our families and our culture and our society, and so it goes against his plan,” [Fotusky] said Tuesday outside Town of Barker Hall in Castle Creek. “He was the designer. It was his plan. It’s his way to provide for the human family, and so I believe that it’s up to God if he wants to redefine marriage.”

For her part, Cent said, “I am Catholic, and my definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. It is a sacrament.”

In her resignation letter, Fotusky complained that “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 U.S. Constitution supports freedom of religion.”

Which completely misses the point. Fotusky is certainly welcome to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, but in her job she has sworn to uphold the law, whether she likes it or not. She said her resignation was not a protest against the new law, but it begs the question that if her convictions about the sanctity (or “sacrament,” as Centi believes) of marriage is so complete, has she also refused to sign the certificates of those who have been previously married?

Luke 16:18 reads: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” If Fortusky or Centi have signed certificates for a second, third, or fourth (or more) marriage for any one participant, one could argue they have given their tacit approval to adultery, and have violated Jesus’ clear words on this matter. Yet I doubt they’re losing sleep over those marriage certificates.

The fact is, these are resignations of protest, no matter what they say. This has nothing to do with “religious liberty” or freedom and everything to do with whether these women can follow the law. If they can’t, they’re in the wrong job, and quitting is perhaps their first real act of following what they say they believe.

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