By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
NEW YORK, USA (Worthy News)– Although a memo circulated by the Alliance Defense Fund assured scrupulous New York State license clerks that they can delegate the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses to another clerk, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice disagreed.
“The law affords no discretion to public officials charged with granting marriage licenses,” she said. “Therefore, any such refusal may be subject to criminal prosecution.”
The ADF memo was circulated in response to Rice and other NY state officials who threatened to charge clerks who decline to issue same sex marriage licenses with a criminal offense, thereby forcing clerks to choose between their career and their faith.
“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,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo after signing same-sex marriage into law. “You can’t do that; so if you can’t enforce the law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.”
“No one should have to choose between their religious beliefs and their job,” said ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum. “It’s outrageous that officials are threatening criminal prosecution for clerks who exercise their lawful right to delegate the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses, especially when the law requires the accommodation of their religious beliefs.”
The ADF memo explained that though New York’s “Marriage Equality Act” lacks individual conscience protections, that same state’s Human Rights Law requires employers to accommodate employee religious beliefs “unless it places an undue hardship on the employer”; ADF lawyers argue that marriage license delegation doesn’t constitute “an undue hardship” because Executive Law 296 (10)(a) allows a municipality to delegate a clerk’s duties concerning marriage licenses to a deputy clerk, or any other municipal employee.