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Town clerk balks at issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Town clerk balks at issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Barbara MacEwen

As marriage equality becomes law across New York state on July 24, same-sex couples looking to wed in Volney, N.Y. will likely encounter a disapproving town clerk.

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.

Under law, town or city clerks must sign marriage licenses; MacEwen would like the state to allow the licenses to be signed by a deputy clerk.

“I’m not objecting to having it done here in the office, but I’m objecting to being forced to sign my name to something that is against my morals and my God,” said MacEwen, who has been town clerk for 18 years. “I don’t want to have to leave my position, and I still feel strongly about not wanting to sign, but I’m not sure if there’s another way around it.”

Other clerks say they’ll issue the licenses regardless of their personal beliefs.

New York’s Marriage Equality Act, signed into law Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, includes exemptions for religious organizations that disapprove of same-sex couples, but does not extend those protections to public officials.

MacEwen, a 75-year-old Republican, said she will be on the ballot this fall for a fifth, full four-year term as clerk of the town of about 6,200 people, reports POLITICO.

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