When the New York state legislature rammed through a law “legalizing” same-sex “marriage” this last summer, countless New Yorkers disagreed with the decision. Among them were Christian town clerks who could not in good conscience sign marriage licenses for a union they consider sinful.
Clauses were written in the law that supposedly protect clergy from being forced to act against their faith. However, such clauses do not apply to town clerks or any other government official.
Clerks are told point blank, either accept the law, or resign. Town clerk Rose Marie Belforti of Ledyard, New York found out the hard way. When the law passed, Belforti, a dairy owner and cheese maker, decided her Christian conscience would not allow her to sign same-sex “marriage” licenses. She did not deny them a license but merely asked that another official sign such licenses in her place. Since that other official is not always in, applicants are now asked to make an appointment.
When two applicants of the same sex did indeed ask for a license, the arrangement did not satisfy them. They were outraged by the inconvenience of making an appointment with the clerk’s substitute who now signs all licenses. The case has raised a tempest among the homosexual network nationwide. Indignant cries of religious bigotry and disregard for the law have been leveled against Rose Marie Belforti. Her dairy’s Facebook page now has abusive comments charging her with homophobia where once there were compliments about her bleu cheese.
In the sleepy town of less than 500 families, the local town clerk that normally issued ten licenses a year has been put in the national spotlight. Lawyers are threatening lawsuits against the unassuming dairy farmer. People for the American Way and the law firm Proskauer Rose are now co-representing the two applicants as they demand that Belforti either issue the marriage licenses against her conscience or resign. Online petitions are circulating asking that the clerk be dismissed.
Public officials can’t pick and choose the laws they want to follow,” cries an indignant Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation. “If a public official simply decides to shirk the obligations of her office, then she should resign and be replaced by someone who will do the job and carry out state law.”
Drew Courtney, a spokesman for People for the American Way points out: “She has a job to do. That job is to administer the paperwork and licenses of marriages in accordance with the state laws that govern it.”
However, it seems the do-your-job-or-resign option only works one way. When it comes to the promotion of the homosexual cause, it appears officials can pick and choose which laws they want to defend. However, there is no indignation from offended liberals when these public officials refuse to do their job and carry out the law.
The most obvious case is the February decision of the Obama Administration’s decision that its Justice Department will no longer defend the constitutionality of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) banning federal recognition of same-sex “marriage.” The House of Representatives was forced to assume the responsibility for defending the abandoned law signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The constitutionality of laws is, of course, determined by the courts — not by the executive branch. However, in this case favoring the homosexual agenda, it seems the public official can shirk the responsibility of the office and flatly refuse to defend the law of the land.
A second case in point is that of Proposition 8 in California. Voters across the state decided to amend the State Constitution and recognize marriage as between one man and one woman. Since the constitution is the law of the state, state officials are obliged to defend that law despite their personal opinions. However, when the amendment was challenged, then-California Attorney General Jerry Brown and then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to defend the amendment which is part of the State Constitution. Defenders of traditional marriage are now petitioning to ask if they can defend the disregarded rights of the majority that voted for Proposition 8.
In the case of Rose Marie Belforti, she has not refused to carry out the law or grant licenses. She merely delegated it to others. However, in the case of DOMA and Proposition 8, the elected executives have unilaterally decided not to uphold the present law. No one from People For the American Way is calling for these elected officials to resign.
There is a double standard here that must be addressed. Obviously the uproar in New York is not about the principle of law that is supposedly being transgressed. It is about an agenda that tramples upon the conscience of officeholders, disregards laws and constitutions and ignores the opinions of majorities. It is agenda that forces itself upon the nation and is definitely not part of the American Way.