Last week I wrote that a town clerk in upstate New York had quit her job to avoid having to sign marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. Laura Fotusky wrote in her resignation letter that she would step down on July 21, three days before New York becomes the sixth state to allow same-sex marriage, due to her religious objections to marriage equality.
Fotusky is now joined by another town clerk in upstate New York, Ruth Sheldon, who resigned effective July 22 for the same reasons. In her letter of resignation, Sheldon wrote:
"I have always tried to treat everyone who comes to my desk with respect and without discrimination. Recently however, New York State passed the same sex marriage law, a law which violates my conscience and my faith. I have struggled prayerfully how to handle this situation, since I would be forced to sign same sex marriage licenses. It is clear that I must stand for what I believe."
And as Sheldon explained to news reporter Jim Kenyon:
"I believe God has made it clear how he feels about this type of thing. … [Signing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples] would be going against my principles, it would be going against my conscience, it would be going against my faith. … I try to uphold the law, this is a law I could not uphold. I felt it’s time to step aside."
As wrong as I think they are, both Fotusky and Sheldon made the right decision given their beliefs. As Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “When you enforce the laws of the State, you don’t get to pick and choose the laws. … If you can’t enforce the law then you shouldn’t be in that position.” However, while I expect more government employees to voice their objections, the poor state of the economy will probably convince most to swallow their morals and continue doing their job.