New York clerk refuses to sign gay marriage licences

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A town clerk in New York may be forced to resign over her refusal to sign marriage licences for gay couples.

Rose Marie Belforti, the town clerk for Ledyard, says she has a “policy issue” with the city’s new gay marriage law.

In an interview with Christian website CitizenLink, she suggested that allowing gay couples to wed could lead to bestiality.

Ms Belforti, who cited her religious objections, said: “I don’t personally have any problem with gay people. I have friends who are gay. This is more a policy issue for me.

She added: “I see a lot of problems with this form. For instance, I don’t know if, when we consider historically that people are going to go back and look at their genealogy and try to find out who their relatives are, when they come upon this form and they see father or parent, mother or parent, they’re never going to know if that’s their real mother and father or if it’s just a neighbour who was raising them or an uncle or an aunt or anybody … because a parent really can be anyone. We have these names on here and no on will ever know if it’s a woman or a man, if it’s same-sex or not.

“I’m worried there’s another agenda involved here other than just allowing same-sex couples to be married. We know what a bride is, we know what a groom is – but if we choose to be a ‘spouse,’ does that even limit [marriage] to a human being? Do you know what I’m saying?”

Officials at Ledyard’s town hall have asked her not to sign any marriage licences – gay or straight – until the issue is resolved.

Currently, those wishing to obtain a marriage licence must make an appointment when a deputy clerk is available.

A meeting held last night heard objections from around 20 residents, the Citizen reports.

One, Arthur Bellinzoni, said: “Apparently, the town board has set up an illegal scheme for the sole purpose of protecting the town clerk from issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples.”

As an elected official, Ms Belforti is not considered an employee of the town.

A New York City law firm, Carmichael and DiBiaggio, may be considering a lawsuit against the clerk, the newspaper reported.