Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Governor Cuomo Responds To Clerk/Gay Marriage Controversy

We now hear it from the top. In a response to the situation unfolding in New York, with town and county clerks resigning rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Governor Cuomo has come out and said that all clerks must uphold the law and process same-sex marriage licenses or lose their jobs. According to the New York Daily News,
"The law is the law. When you enforce the laws of the state, you don't get to pick and choose which laws...You don't get to say, 'I like this law and I'll enforce this law, or I don't like this law and I won't enforce this law' -- you can't do that...So if you can't enforce the law, then you shouldn't be in that position."
 "We've had this debate. We've talked about it at length for many many years. We had a very heated discussion in Albany before the law was passed. I understand the opposition, and I understand both sides of the argument. And I understand the religious position of the argument. And I understand people who have religious beliefs and their opposition based on religious beliefs. I'm the governor of the state, and this is a legal matter. It's a legal question. To me, it's a question of equality and anti-discrimination. From a legal point of view, I believe this is exactly right and I'm comfortable with it, and that's why I supported it and I advocated.
"I understand people who say, I have religious beliefs and my religious beliefs trump my legal obligations. I understand that, and that's why the person is resigning," the governor continued. "If you're saying you're going to act through your religious beliefs rather than what is the law of the state, then you can't operate in a position where you're supposed to be enforcing the laws, right? Because the laws would have to be paramount, and would have to be paramount to your religious beliefs. You can't have a system in this state where people enforce the laws that their religions say are OK to enforce, right?"
Meanwhile, groups like Focus On The Family and New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms, think that as long as gay and lesbian couples can find alternate sources to get a marriage licence, clerks should be able to refuse them service based upon their religious beliefs.  Do they not understand that these are public servants and therefore must serve the whole public?

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