Rose Marie Belforti

A town clerk in the state of New York who refuses to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples must go, says a US group.

Two weeks after same-sex marriage was legalised in the state in June, the Town Clerk of Ledyard, Rose Marie Belforti, sent a letter to the town board explaining that her religious beliefs preclude her from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

“I am a Christian. I believe marriage was created by God as a blessing to be shared between a man and a woman spiritually, emotionally and physically,” Belforti told The Citizen.

“Man cannot legislate a divinely ordained institution by a majority vote of those who do not recognise the sanctity of marriage, as God intended it to be. My conscience, which is also God-given, does not allow me to endorse same-sex marriage.”

While Belforti has asked that a deputy clerk be assigned to sign same-sex marriages licenses in her place, the People for the American Way Foundation (PFAW) believe that this is not acceptable.

“Elected officials can’t pick and choose which laws they’ll follow,” said Michael Keegan, President of PFAW. “The state of New York did the right thing by offering the protections of marriage to same-sex couples. It’s not up to individual officials in particular towns to decide whether or not they’ll adhere to the law.”

Keegan said that the Ledyard Town Board has dodged the issue by claiming that they lack the authority to force Belforti to sign the marriage licenses because she is an elected official.

“The Board needs to make clear that it’s going to do everything in its power to enforce state law and make sure that same-sex couples can access the protections that come with civil marriage,” he said.

PFAW has launched a petition demanding that Belforti does her job, “follow the law and sign ALL legal marriage licenses, or resign from office and make way for someone who will do the job and respect the law”.

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