Wednesday, 14 September 2011

New York Clerk in Marriage Refusal

A fascianting potential case is emerging in New York.  Pink News reports that a town clerk in New York may be forced to resign over her refusal to sign marriage licences for gay couples. 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?”

For followers of developments on this side of the Atlantic, the case resonates with the refusal of a registrar to act in the performance of Civil partnership ceremonies.  However, the crucial legal difference is that Belforti is apparently not an employee, as she's elected.  A New York law firm is now considering a law suit, which presumably will focus on the issue of 'employment' and public officials.  Given her subsequent comments about bestiality, it's curious that she should be pictured hugging a cow (she's obviously hacked off some, err hacks).  Anyway, it's one to watch.

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Elly said...

I think she made some valid points. I don't agree she should be in a job where she can choose to discriminate, but as a philosophical and even legal question, I think the issue over the difference between 'husband and wife' and 'spouse and spouse' is worth considering. Not to mention some of the weird gender issues around men both being 'husbands' sometimes or women both being 'wives'.

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