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DA warns town clerks of penalties for refusing marriage licenses to gay couples

Sunday, July 10, 2011

As New York state prepares to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples later this month, at least one county is reminding local officials there will be consequences if they refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

You might remember that Barbara MacEwen, town clerk of Volney, in Oswego County, said she believes same-sex marriage is morally wrong and doesn’t want her name on a marriage license issued to a same-sex couple.

Kathleen Rice

But in Nassau County, District Attorney Kathleen Rice is making it clear there will be none of that nonsense in her jurisdiction.

“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.

“The religious exemptions in the Marriage Equality Act are inapplicable to town and city clerks serving in their license-granting roles, and a public official’s intentional refusal to issue marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples may constitute Official Misconduct, a Class A misdemeanor defined in section 195.00 of the New York State Penal Law.”

Rice delivered the advisement in a letter to the city and town clerks in her Long Island county on Friday. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in New York state on July 24.

A copy of the letter is here (PDF).

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Filed under: New York

34 more reader comments:

  1. Haha! Suck on that suckah! :P

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:49am
  2. Yes, that and the Unholy Wrath of an Angry Queen. Wait, make that TWO angry Queens…

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:59am
  3. If you don`t want to issue marriage licenses to us, either get over it or find a new job :)

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:09am
  4. Who makes these town clerks judge and jury????? Come to Greenburgh NY – one of the first towns to be issuing same sex licenses! NY – the great state where everyone is equal…..

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:26am
  5. Or two very angry dy… uh, lesbians.

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:35am
  6. they tried that here in Bakersfield, CA when the short time that marriage was legal in this state

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:36am
  7. Golly gee whiz Toto…I dont think we’re in Kansas anymore! Dear NY city/county clerks: the LGBT community would like to let you in on a little secret, one that we learned quite some time ago…Life Isnt Fair. Now, thats something that you should have learned very early in life; we certainly did. Big people sometimes have to do things that they dont want to do. Im going to suggest that you learn the difference between ACCEPTANCE and APPROVAL. Your acceptance is required…your approval is not. There are myriad accepted (see, another one)definitions. The one for acceptance that fits well here is: to recognize that a certain thing or person or situation IS, without necessarily agreeing with it; to endure without reaction or protest. Approval: to have or express a favorable opinion. We would never force you to approve. But…BY LAW NOW…you are required to accept that issuing a marriage license to us is our right. You know…a right…those pesky little things?

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 4:12am
  8. Well said Tammy!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 5:35am
  9. Yay!!! Thx Kathleen Rice!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 7:56am
  10. She doing that because no one want to fuck her…..

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 8:15am
  11. @Annette, ” NY – the great state where everyone is equal…..” Sounds so good now that this statement is for real…

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 9:31am
  12. good to see her stand up!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 9:31am
  13. good to see you are experienced in the ‘no one want to fuck me school’ to recognize this.

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 11:33am
  14. elected officials should do the jobs they were elected to do or resign. this includes issuing marriage licenses.

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:09pm
  15. Pffft! If she doesn’t like it than she should step down! Anyways, glad it’s legal in New York.

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:13pm
  16. Good job on the DA’s behalf

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:14pm
  17. Her personal beliefs have no bearing here. The law is the law…do your fuckin job and who gives a flying rats ass about what you think is wrong! If you don’t like it, find another job!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:26pm
  18. If public officials can not or will not perform the duties of their jobs as prescribed by law then they should be removed from their posts! Ppl should leave their personal opinions at home!!!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:27pm
  19. Good call by the DA! But Barbara you still have a choice, do your job or get prosecuted Or quit! Choice is yours!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:28pm
  20. Same with attorneys etc elected/hired by the government — they are hired to represent clients, even if they are despicable guilty child raping clients. It’s your job. Do it.

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:31pm
  21. You can’t just refuse to do part of your job. If you feel like you can’t perform all the required tasks, then quit. When do I get to stop doing parts of my job because I don’t wanna’?

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:31pm
  22. Absolutely. I hear that! If that town clerk doesn’t want to sign the licenses she shouldn’t be the town clerk

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 1:32pm
  23. If I refuse to do my job, I would be fired.. Fire the ignorant ass, I’m sure someone who doesn’t have a job would love to have her job

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 2:50pm
  24. I’ll sign them licenses!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 5:17pm
  25. Seperation of state and church or is she just ignorant???

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 5:20pm
  26. I guess its time for barbara macewen to get a new job if she dont want her name of any of the marriage licences

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 6:07pm
  27. If they don’t want their name on the paper, fire them! Unemployment is a bitch & this bitch she has teeth !

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 6:27pm
  28. I don’t want her name on any marriage license. Get out of office biggit!

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 7:34pm
  29. @fries naa, i agree

    Posted on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 7:54pm
  30. I would place a bet that Barbara MacEwen “knows” no gay people other than celebs. With her beliefs it is unlikely someone she knows who is gay would come out to her. I hope that one of these people gathers the strength to let her know, maybe that favorite clerk, hairdresser, friend’s child, minister. Only when she meets and I mean “meets” real gay people can she every get over her feelings that they don’t deserve the rights she has.
    As a public school teacher, I feel that the state mandated tests are truly harmful to some of my students but would be fired if I failed to give them. So I’m sorry for her ignorance, but fired she must be.

    Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11:27am
  31. Wish I worked with Barbara, just so I could say “You put your name on that certificate or I’ll put your name on a pink slip. Your choice.”

    And fire her anyway.

    Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 10:59pm
  32. Clerks are elected, not appointed. Who are you in the fantasy that you have the authority to fire an elected official?

    Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11:00pm
  33. I expect, generally, that refusing to do ones job results in a loss of that job, not being convicted of a crime.

    Posted on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11:01pm
  34. I am glad to see that she can read the bible but i see that she did not read the hole thing because it also says that you should not pass judgment unless you are free of sin. you know i am a people of God he made me and he is the one who said that man and woman are made of my flesh and i make them in my image so if that is the case then i am glad to be gay and i am glad that God is there for me. i for give Barbara MacEwen because that too is what God asked us to do and man kind cant seem to do that. my thought is who cares whose name is on it as long as i have the right to say i do or not that is up to me no one but me and i give coo does to new york finely some one has the balls to stand up for the rights of the Gay American people

    In Gods name I stand

    Posted on Tuesday, July 12, 2011 at 10:56pm