A town clerk in Broome County in Upstate New York has resigned her position on religious grounds rather than perform gay marriages as part of her duties.
Barker, NY Town Clerk Laura Fotusky cited the Bible in resigning. From her resignation letter:
“I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible. In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”
“The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God. Deuteronomy 10:12 says, ‘…What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.’”
“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.”
However, this is cherry picking the Bible on the subject of marriage at best. According to Pastor Jennifer Wright Knust, a theology professor from Boston University, the Bible often contradicts itself on topics relating to marriage, sex and desire. She told National Public Radio:
“If you’re reading the Hebrew Bible, we might have polygamy again. We might have not only polygamy with wives, we might have polygamy with concubines and slaves,” she says. “And if we’re reading the New Testament, we would avoid marriage. The overwhelming opinion of New Testament writers is that marriage is a waste of time and that we shouldn’t be doing it because we should be spreading the Gospel. … If you’re married, you’re totally distracted and not focusing on God. If we took the New Testament seriously, we would all stop being married.”
The Gay Christian website documents what the Bible teaches about marriage and what forms of marriage were acceptable: polygamy was accepted, levirate marriage was accepoted meaning if your husband died and you had no children, you were required to marry his brother (ick). Mixed marriages (between masters and slaves) were OK, as were marriages between soldiers and their prisoner captives. The Bible also called for rapists to marry their victims and pay the family damages for the crime.
This is little written about same sex relationships in the Bible with the exception of Leviticus which called “a man lying with a man” an abomination; and before we go nuts on the term abomination, Leviticus used the same words for eating pork or shellfish (but aren’t those bacon-wrapped scallops to die for?).
Under the law in New York, a clerk who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple could face possible criminal charges. From a letter one DA sent to city and town clerks:
“The Marriage Equality Act provides that an application for a marriage license cannot be denied on the grounds that the applicant parties are of the same sex and the law affords no discretion to public officials charged with granting marriage licenses. Therefore, any such refusal may be subject to criminal prosecution.”
As Gay Marriage gains more acceptance towards what many believe will be a Loving vs Virginia moment where marriage is legal in all 50 states, I have to wonder how many more conservative Republican town clerks will step down instead of conduct their sworn duties?