Upstate Town Clerk Is Possibly Discriminatory, Definitely Annoying

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A glimpse of Ledyard. Photo: Town of Ledyard

When New York legalized gay marriage few months ago, some town clerks resigned their positions rather than issue marriage licenses to people of the same sex. But Rose Marie Belforti, the clerk in the tiny rural town of Ledyard, in the Finger Lakes region, had a different idea. Belforti didn't want to marry gays — "God doesn’t want me to do this, so I can’t do what God doesn’t want me to do," she tells the Times — but she also didn't want to lose her job. So instead of doing either of those things, she decided to have anyone who wants a marriage license, gay or straight, make an appointment with her deputy. This policy worked for about five seconds. The Times reports:


But when a lesbian couple who own a farm near here showed up at the town hall last month, the women said they were unwilling to wait.

Now Ms. Belforti is at the heart of an emerging test case, as national advocacy groups look to Ledyard for an answer to how the state balances a religious freedom claim by a local official against a civil rights claim by a same-sex couple.

Each side has lawyered up as the lesbian couple considers a lawsuit. Is it a discriminatory policy? Since both straights and gays have to make an appointment with the deputy clerk, we're not sure. It's definitely an inconvenience though, for anyone planning to get married. Maybe someone who's actually interested in performing the tasks of a town clerk should be the town clerk? Just a suggestion.

Rights Collide as Town Clerk Sidesteps Role in Gay Marriages [NYT]