A New York town clerk has reported that she wants to refuse to sign licenses for gay marriages but her position of employment currently falls outside legal protections, and so may force her to go against her faith and conscience to approve licenses.
The County Clerk’s offices are set to open in New York for same-sex couples to wed later this month and Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided to open the offices on Sunday, July 24, when he will also preside over a gay ceremony.
A number of provisions to protect religious communities from acting against their conscience have been addressed in the gay marriage bill in New York. That bill highlights several religious liberty concerns. However, it seemingly ignores other religious conflicts.
Churches and religious organizations are exempt from having their properties used for purposes that conflict with their religious beliefs with regards to marriage. They have the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples, according to statements from the New York Alliance Defense Fund.
Yet, the bill states public officials, caterers, photographers and others do not have that right.
The legal loophole means a town clerk who refuses to sign gay marriage licenses because it goes against his or her moral and religious beliefs, may be forced to act against his or her faith.
Barbara MacEwen, a 75-year-old Republican, says she will only sign the licenses if forced to do so, according to CNN news reports.
“I don't really call it a marriage because a marriage is between a man and a woman," she said as stated in KCTV news reports.
MacEwen added that she feels very uncomfortable to sign her name on the license. She told several publications that she is looking into her legal options.
Clerks in New York expect to see a large turnout of gay couples applying for marriage licenses on July 24.
Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz, who voted against the bill as the lone Democrat, told The Christian Post earlier that Christians need "to organize better."
"The problem with the Christian movement, with the Christians and pastors, is that they pray too much and act too little," the Bronx state senator told CP.
New York is now one of six states that allows gay marriage. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last month signed the state's Marriage Equality Act into law. Gay couples from out of state are also allowed to apply for marriage licenses in New York.