NY Broome County Clerk Resigns Over Same-Sex Marriage, Cites Biblical Law

A county clerk in New York's Broome County has submitted her resignation, saying she won't perform same-sex marriages because it conflicts with her religious beliefs, the Journal News reports.

Barker Wrote Barker Town Clerk Laura Fotusky, in her resignation letter:

“I believe that there is a higher law than the law of the land. It is the law of God in the Bible.  In Acts 5:29, it states, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

“The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures. Since I love and follow Him, I cannot put my signature on something that is against God.  Deuteronomy 10:12 says, ‘…What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.’”

“I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure. Therefore, I will be resigning as of July 21. I wanted you to know my position as I understand the marriage law goes into effect on July 24.”

At least one DA, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, has told clerks that refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples may land them in hot water. Wrote Rice in a letter to Nassau County clerks late last week:

"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."


  1. Dale says

    Wasn’t she the one seen in her cotton/poly blended suit in a restaurant eating a shrimp salad and yelling at her husband on her cell phone?
    Leviticus 19:19
    Leviticus 11:10
    Ephesians 5:21-32

  2. says

    I don’t get the “good riddance”, etc…this clerk is not fighting to change the law back, she is not trying to take away marriage equality. She’s simply saying she personally and spiritually does not condone the lifestyle and has changed her career so as not to be a hypocrite.

    Sorry, I think that’s admirable and not “idiotic”. People have faith and lifestyles that differ…thankfully this is one person not pushing hers on us.

  3. androjai says

    anyone quoting “biblical law” as actual fact should be nowhere near a court room or civil office. Afterwards, they should go home and stone their wife for “lustful thoughts” and then deliver themselves to the authorities for the “deviant behavior of wearing mixed fabrics” before being resoundedly caned for such a transgression

  4. Josh says

    Good riddance means, Jason, that we’re imperfect people who despise those who despise us. A woman whose beliefs repulse us couldn’t do the job SHE WAS HIRED TO DO, she quits, we gloat. I don’t admire her religious integrity, I don’t admire anything about her.

  5. says

    unless this woman has previously objected to marrying non-Christian or non-religious couples, Jason, then she is indeed a complete and utter hypocrite.

    sorry, your chosen “opinion” on this matter is, alas, utterly flawed.

  6. Matt says

    Good! But why is this even news ,( I’m not referring to here, but NY’s news in general)her resignation certainly won’t upset anyone wishing for a marriage license by a same-sex couple.

    Someone’s morale disapproval over marriage equality is irrelevant. At least this woman concedes to that point and didn’t try to stay AND not issue licenses.

  7. says

    @Jason: If this woman “does not condone the lifestyle”, as you so eloquently stated, then perhaps she should have joined a nunnery or pursued some other career that caters only to her ilk instead of working in a county courthouse.

  8. says

    Actually, the Bible says extremely little about marriage at all, and what it does say looks nothing like modern marriage. She’s been facilitating “non-Biblical” marriages this whole time, and never had a problem until now. So the “Biblical law” thing is a cop-out; her actual problem is with gay people specifically.

    It’s just another example of someone suddenly becoming a Biblical literalist and devotee only when it comes to same-sex relations (and even then, they’re reading into the Bible what they want to see). But they don’t seem to have a problem with the myriad other ways in which they are failing to live up to Biblical examples and directives.

  9. One of the CA 36,000 says

    @Jason: To add to the pile-on of your rather naïve post, I would note that municipal government officials sign contracts and take oaths to follow the laws of the municipality, NOT those of some bipolar Sky-Daddy who may or may not exist. She can follow her Biblical “higher law” to her heart’s content until she steps foot in her place of work.

    Since she doesn’t want to do her job as she has promised to execute it, I say:

    Good riddance. Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya, beeyotch.

  10. says

    If this woman has become a “Biblical literalist”, I certainly hope she has gotten rid of anything in her closet that is a cotton/poly blend. We all know Leviticus’ stand on clothing of mixed fibers…. BIG NO-NO.

  11. brian says

    The little red dot is in the wrong spot on the map. The village of Barker in Niagara County is currently tagged but this incident happened in town of Barker in Broome County.

    Regardless, sayonara lady!

  12. Robert in SF says

    In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament): Genesis 2:24, Leviticus 18:6+, and Deuteronomy 24:1+
    In the Christian Scriptures (New Testament): Matthew 5:32 and 19:3+; Mark 10:2, and 1 Corinthians 7:12+.

    At first reading, the key biblical passages on divorce do not appear to be in agreement:
    in agreement
    Some passages actually required inter-faith couples to divorce.
    Others seem to say that divorce can be initiated by the husband only, and for almost any reason.
    Others appear to allow both husbands and wives to initiate a divorce, but only for specific reasons.
    Others seem to say that divorce is not permitted under any circumstances.

  13. Robert in SF says

    My above comment got cut somehow:

    I was saying she’s clearly a hypocrite is she didn’t quit over issuing certificates to divorces persons…

  14. ohplease says

    I thought she’d NEVER leave!

    And, Jason: “lifestyle”? Really? And how is everything in 1974?

    And yes, just so you know, being a delusional foolish bigot who thinks a giant ghost in the sky hates marriage equality is “idiotic”.

  15. Matthew says

    This played out exactly like it should have. If your religious beliefs interfere with your job, you resign.

    Equality might interfere with your religious beliefs, but it’s an American value promised by the Constitution. I wish the politicians who vote against equality because it interferes with their religion would follow this woman’s lead and quit.

  16. Codswallop says

    “The Bible clearly teaches that God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures.”

    Could someone please point out the passages in the Bible that say anything even slightly resembling that? Seriously.

    I’m atheist but I was raised in a church and they must have skipped over that part. I remember the bits about adultery and divorce, and the parts about women keeping silent in church and obeying their husbands, marriage being a “divine gift”? Maybe I was busy trying to figure out how Jonah could have lived inside a whale when they talked about that.

  17. Ricco says

    Here is the thing about people who do quote Biblical law where same sex marriage and relationships are concerned, and that is that they never quote anything that is ACTUALLY pertinent to the subject at hand. The word marriage, as a doctrine or precept, is not, at all, discussed in the Bible.

    And the two or three, LITERALLY two or three, passages that seem to say anything regarding same sex relationships, besides their immediate applications being open to interpretation, people calling themselves Christian’s have found a thousand-and-one meanings, filled with quite specific, and broad sub-text.

    The Bible is practically silent on homosexuality, but there is a WEALTH of scripture, A WEALTH!! . . . dealing with the sexual conduct of heterosexuals, most of which is callously disregarded, with many justifications for doing so . . . so here is what makes Barker Town Clerk Laura Fotusky, and others like her, a bigot, and not merely someone who is out of good conscience, and to the best of her ability, trying to live her faith: is that all the legislation that circumvents God’s law, many which Laura, in her capacity as Barker Town Clerk, is already GUILTY many times over of affixing her signature and approval, quite contrary to the LAWS of the GOD she says is owed her unwavering obedience.

    To say it plainly: Laura, and others like her, are bigots, not because they believe something they read in the Bible concerning gays, but because they pick-and-choose, and interpret as it suits them to obey or disregard those scriptures they find INCONVENIENT.

    Her beliefs have everything to do with human bias and bigotry, and nothing, whatsoever, to do with her faith.

    She is a bigot. And she is a part-time Christian.

  18. petrof says

    Good riddance, because she was in her position to serve all people regardless of her religious beliefs. Her civic job has nothing to do with her religious convictions. She can now devote herself to that endeavor if she chooses, but not on county time.

  19. 1♥ says

    Since she is using Deuteronomy to justify her bigotry then she must stand by these verses also:
    Deuteronomy 22:13-21(NIV)
    Marriage Violations
    13 If a man takes a wife and, after sleeping with her, dislikes her 14 and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” 15 then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. 16 Her father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. 17 Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, 18 and the elders shall take the man and punish him. 19 They shall fine him a hundred shekels[a] of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
    20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done an outrageous thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you.
    Deuteronomy 22:28-29 (NIV)
    28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels[a] of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    And please note how the false god of the Bible wants the father to receive the money and not the woman and how the man pays a fine but the woman is executed. That is the traditional values of Christianity.

  20. Justin Werner says

    Maybe she’s counting on making money as a martyr… there are enough whackjobs out there that will view her as such… perhaps they can keep her in Alpo and saltines.

  21. Ricco says

    Sorry about my earlier comment. It got lost in the thinking a little . . . in the tiny box, but I do hope that my meaning, if somewhat garbled, was mostly evident.


  22. petrof says

    Let me add to the Christians out there: you are NOT bound by the Mosaic laws in the Old Testament. Do some research, and know that these are strictly for Jews in ancient Israel. Christians only observe them as general principles not as strict codes of behavior. They are supposed to be more focused on love they neighbor, forgiveness, etc. etc. (Jesus’s words). Council of Jerusalem 50 AD, Apostolic Decree (Christian converts are not obligated to be under Mosaic Laws including circumcision.

  23. Trask says

    She is not being asked to conduct a religious ceremony. Period. Government workers take an oath to uphold the laws of the state, not of their faith. Clearly she can’t do that so she should go.

  24. Colin in Canada says

    Actually I agree with Jason. The individual did little more than make a statement in her letter of resignation. She doesn’t seem to be trying to drag things into court demanding some special privilege because of her particular religious conceptions. She gave notice and didn’t just walk out. If there is any criticism to be made, it is that her notice was less than the customary two week period.

    While I do think her beliefs are “wrong-headed” (hey, I find all religious beliefs to be “wrong-headed”), she acted in an essentially principled manner. She apparently hasn’t done anything to try to force these beliefs on anyone else.

    Lighten up people. Her theological position is not significantly more ludicrous or hypocritical then any other belief in some big juju in the sky.

    If she wants to martyr herself on this particular issue it is only affecting herself and any dependents who might rely on her income.

  25. Sargon Bighorn says

    She better NOT claim “persecution for her Faith” or “Anti-Christian” bias and bigotry. No one is denying her the right to practice her faith, NO ONE. Her job however has some duties that she must perform. If she does not want to perform those job duties she must seek other employment. That is NOT a religious issue at all.

  26. anon says

    Broome County is home of the conservative Christian cult that Johnny Hart of “B.C.” fame belonged to. There was a joke that “B.C.” refers to Broome County. There are also several religious retreats in the area and gay nudist resort(!).

  27. Robert says

    Jason, one’s sexual orientation is NOT a lifestyle no more than being straight is. We don’t choose our orientations, it is chosen for us in the womb. But…religion IS a lifestyle, learned behavior. Nobody comes into this world religious. As long as these clerks are receiving their paychecks courtesy of the state’s tax payers including gay tax payers, they shouldn’t be allowed to discriminate against gay couples. I hope gay businesses are accorded the same right to discriminate against religious bigots.

  28. cmh says

    Good for her really. This is what she believes and she is exercising her freedom by resigning a job she feels is unable to comply with.

    That is the right thing to do under the circumstances, instead of wasting the state’s time with a frivolous lawsuit about why she should be able to discriminate according to her beliefs and keep her job.

  29. Brian says

    Barker is in Niagara County NY. Broome County is in NY’s Southern Tier, and features cities such as Binghamton, which was reported last week to be opening early to provide marriage licenses on 7/24.

  30. Tim says

    Your red dot that is supposed to mark where Broome County is on the map of NY is off by a couple hundred miles. Broome County is in the Southern Tier, near the PA border. It is north of Binghamton, which is one of the few accommodating cities in NYS opening its clerk’s office on Sunday, July 24, when the marriage equality law takes effect. Your dot is the location of the Village of Barker, located in Niagara County. It’s one of the quirks of New York, which often has the same name for multiple cities, towns and villages.

    Sorry, I’m a political science and geography geek. :)

  31. says

    Just to clarify…I never said I agreed with her view or her religion, only her decision to make a personal choice based on her personal beliefs.

    Let’s get it right…equality does not equate to forcing people to agree with you or like you. This woman is free to dislike homosexuality and she’s free to leave her post if her personal ethics go against marrying us. And that’s just what she did. She did the right thing as far as I’m concerned.

    The wrong thing would have been refusing to marry gays as a religious stance and then filing a religious discrimination case when she’s fired for practicing her religion. That case is coming, I’m sure of it. And its going to get pretty darned ugly when it happens. What happens when people start getting fired from their jobs for adhering to their religious beliefs?

    So, yes, I give this woman credit for not using the system as a means to push a religion and instead deciding that her job had become something she could no longer perform in good faith.

  32. Harrison says

    Jason just brought up the point I came on to post about. Is religion covered under New York’s employment non-discrimination policies? Now I know, in this case, there were no special religious accommodations made in New York’s marriage law for civic officials, and she left of her own accord and wasn’t fired. But I figure someone at some point will stick around and make it an issue, and it will make for a very interesting case. And I also wonder if it will once and for all legally point out that nowhere in the Bible does same sex marriage come up.
    Sorry if this post isn’t super eloquent, I blame the heat.

  33. Ricco says

    Jason, you did not merely say that Laura Fotusky, at least by leaving her job, was not wasting funds by suing the county or state . . . you also said that you respected her because you said at least she was not a hypocrite.

    But she is a hypocrite, because her reason for leaving, that she cannot do things that are contrary to the laws of God, is specious, hypocritical because there are many secular laws that circumvent the laws of God, thus requiring Laura, in her position as a county clerk, to affix her signature and effect an obedience to man over God.

    Laura, like most Christians, picks those Christian precepts they will apply a literal interpretation to and obey, and those they will not . . . that is what makes her a hypocrite, that she quit her job over human bias, not her faith as she contends . . . but of course, as an American it is her right to be a liar, hypocrite, and part-time Christian, and I support that right, so long as it does not interfere with my civil rights.

  34. StillmarriedinCA says

    Do you give credit to people who insist the earth is flat and refuse to admit they’re wrong? Nobody deserves credit for being on the wrong side of civil rights and for encouraging hate over love.

  35. Randy says

    This person is basically stating that she doesn’t want to follow New York law.

    Yet she also lies. She says that her “God’s law” is above NY and US law. But if that was actually true, she would stay on. Her decision to quit actually proves that even she is aware that “God’s law” must come second to real law.

  36. says

    She appears to have left our some quotes, one of which would have not allowed her to hold the position that she is resigning from….

    I Timothy 2:11-14: “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

    1 Peter 3
    Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands.

    Galatians 3:28
    There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

  37. mmike1969 says

    Good riddance! Take the trash out as you close the door behind you! Besides, doesn’t the bible state somewhere the woman should be seen and not heard from? Back to the kitchen with ya!

  38. Jason says

    Just a note of clarification: the town of Barker is north if Binghamton, in the Southern Tier. The map shows a town near Niagara Falls. The area is known to Cornell & Ithaca College students as the “ticket zone.” Route 81 cuts through Barker and Castle Creek, where this Clerk is based out of.

  39. wimsy says

    This woman took an oath “so help her God,” and now won’t live up to it. Guess she picks and chooses which parts of the Bible she likes.

    #Jason -She doesn’t “condone” marriage? Do you even know what “condone” means? It means there’s something wrong and icky about it, but one tolerates it. In this century, we don’t “condone” it we “accept” and “respect” it.

  40. DB says

    Wow. How did someone who opposes “the law of the land” ever get hired as a town clerk? She is blatantly unqualified. Incidentally, the Bible never in any way criticizes marriage between two people of the same sex and has several examples of gay romantic love being praised by God (e.g. the love between David and Johnathan which was “as that between man and wife and pleasing to God”).

  41. jamal49 says

    Actually, Ms. Fotusky, I’ve read the bible numerous times and in various translations both English and Spanish. I can guarantee you that there is absolutely, unequivocally NOTHING–I repeat–NOTHING in the bible which teaches that “God created marriage between male and female as a divine gift that preserves families and cultures”. IT’S JUST NOT THERE.

    So, I think maybe you and the rest of the blithering evangelicals should heed what Jesus taught us in The Sermon on the Mount. I suggest you read again in the Book of Matthew, verses 5-13, for you truly blaspheme Jesus and denigrate His Holy Name with your phony evangelical posturing.

  42. Micah says

    Wow… People are stupid. All quoting the old testament law. Jesus did away with the old testament law. I think it’s awesome what she’s doing. Im right there with her. The Bible doesn’t like homosexuality, nor does God. What’s the point of commenting dirty stuff toward her anyways? You really think ur gna change anything or make her feel bad?

  43. Leslie says

    Heavens! She signs a document, checks I.D.s, files paper work, collects fees. She hasn’t married anyone in her long illustrious 4 year career in public office.

    She made a bad career choice in 2007 – long after marriage for gays was legal in other states.

    How much longer must secular employers – all of government and about 90% of private employers – accommodate these people who announce their disability and resign?

    Has any clerk in America who is gay, had problems signing a marriage certificate of a straight couple? An inter-racial couple? A December-May couple? Those marrying for a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or more time? A convicted murderer who marries in jail or when released?

    When she signs filings that certainly do impact families – foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce decree, does she object because of her religion?

    Two guys, or two gals in love, starting a family, settling down together is just too much for her? This doesn’t square with all the ugly things she’s been told in church. That’s where she should be resigning.

  44. Jerry6 says

    Humans got along for thousands, if not millions, of years making love and children without any kind of formal “Legal” nonsense. Then, some “Boss” types created a “God” that told them (Not everyone else; just them)that they needed certain “Rules and regulations” to better control the masses. One of the things they came up with was a “Marriage Law” that tied a woman to a particular man with life servitude. Once married, the woman could not get out of it, but the Man could “Put Aside” his wife whenever he decided he wanted to make a change.

    When are people going to recognise what the creation of the various Bibles, and the perpetual editing and changes made by the “Church” over the centuries really are. Nothing but thought control by an invisible God that only the high mukymuks of the religion can hear.

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