New York clerk quits over gay marriage: "I have to choose between my job and my God"

A woman in upstate New York has taken a bold  stand on the issue.


A rural New York town clerk has resigned her post rather than grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I would be compromising my moral conscience by participating in licensing same-sex couples,” Laura Fotusky, the clerk of the Town of Barker, told POLITICO. “I had to choose between my job and my god.”

Fotusky, a 56-year-old twice-elected Republican in the town of about 2,700 people about 10 miles north of Binghamton, posted her resignation letter to the Web site of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a group that describes itself as “dedicated to influencing legislation and legislators for the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Fotusky, whose resignation is effective July 21, three days before legal gay marriage takes effect in New York, said she has no plans after she leaves her office, which paid $24,205 last year.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” she said. “I just knew that I needed to obey God.”

Read more.

And a local paper has more details.

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55 responses to “New York clerk quits over gay marriage: "I have to choose between my job and my God"”

  1. I see Governor Cuomo has taken a really hard line on this sort of thing:

    “The law is the law. When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get pick and choose which laws,” Cuomo said after signing into law the texting-while-driving ban. “You don’t get to say, ‘I like this law, I’ll enforce this law. I don’t like this law, I won’t enforce this law.’ You can’t do that. So if you can’t enforce the law, then you shouldn’t be in that position.”

    His views are spelled out here:

    Some of the commentators note that he evidently does not believe the same “love it or leave it” approach applies to Catholics who openly defy Catholic moral teaching.

  2. I think Governor Cuomo should give his picture of St. Thomas More to Ms. Fotusky. It seems she understands what conscience is in following God’s law over man’s. Bravo to her!

  3. RomCath: You read mi mind. It is these ladies (there are two of them named in the report) who are the true heirs of St. Thomas More.

    As for Mr. Cuomo’s statement about picking and choosing, he should tell that to his fellow democrat Barak Obama who chose not to enforce the law protecting traditional marriage. And he has the gall to call himself a Catholic and display St. Thomas portrait in his office. Smug and hypocritical.

  4. In all the one-sided pro-Gay media coverage much relevant information was not mentioned while lies circulated freely. The liberal MSM media pushing its liberal agenda this way is going to destroy them, if not the country.
    As usual, the promise was made that noone would be coerced into being involved with Gay marriage. The media ridiculed that idea. But all around the country and indeed the Western World where pro-Gay laws were passed coercion followed–but the examples were ignored.
    Here in Ma. a very similar case to this NY woman happened (I guess the NY media couldn’t find the story to publish during the debate there–or they censored it out).
    Government officials here were told there was no conscience escape clause for any government worker. Don’t go along–you get fired whether justice of the peace or classroom teacher–you must promote and teach Gay marriage.
    Also ridiculed was the idea legal polygamy will follow. But some radical Mormons are already in court demanding that their version of marriage must now be legalized.
    One is thus not surprised that the NY Gay dictator- in- chief governor is taking a hard-line coercive attitude.

  5. Okay,

    I know that this will probably be taken wrong, and I am not discounting the decision these women have made, however do you think that in their careers they issued marriage licenses to divorced Catholics who have not had previous marriages annulled? Isn’t that also participating in helping others commit the sin of adultery? I sense that many decisions are being made around this issue without thinking it through completely and that can hurt a great many people. Consider the many good Catholics who cannot leave their job over this issue. When I read these stories I wonder about the pastoral implications that need to be discussed and I am saddened by the extreme politically charged language I continue to hear. I hope that when the storm passes the reasonable, pastoral, and Christ centered voice of the Catholic Church will override some of the rash decisions and comments being made. Okay, fire away, I am a big boy I can take the heat 🙂

  6. This woman was not a victim of anything. She worked for the state (or entity thereof). She decided that she could not administer the state’s law. She moved on. Win-win.

  7. Ms. Fotusky chose to quit her job because she saw at least one of the duties of that job as being in conflict with her conscience. I can respect her decision, even though I think that NY’s move to marriage equality in CIVIL LAW (distinct from church law) is a good thing.

    She’s not the first, obviously, to quit a job that was in conflict with her conscience. Other people have quit their jobs because at some point they found them to be at odds with their Christian walks: people who helped build nuclear warheads during the ’80s, for instance, and people who have sold guns or who were paid to lobby on the NRA’s behalf against reasonable bans on cop-killer bullets and assault weapons. Each individual needs to listen to his or her conscience. God gave each of us a conscience for a reason.

  8. Steve lists various instances in which people left jobs they believed were incompatible with their “Christian walks” to explain why he “can respect her decision” even though he himself is a supporter of what he calls “marriage equality.” Bottom line for him: “Each individual needs to listen to his or her conscience.”

    Sadly, I suspect this is probably how most Catholics today would respond to a decision like Laura Fotusky’s. What they would miss–and what Steve obviously misses–is a recognition that decisions made on grounds of conscience are worthy of respect (and therefore emulation) for Christians only if they do in fact advance us on a “Christian walk.” This requires us to judge whether the individual is in fact acting not merely on a claim of conscience, but on the claim of a conscience that has been properly formed.

    For faithful Catholics, that determination is not difficult to make. The magisterial teachings of the Church are our reliable guide. As summarized in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the teaching in this instance is clear and unambiguous: “By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.” As an agent of the State (literally), Laura Fotusky realized she could not cooperate in such an assault on the common good, and it is for that reason that her decision is worthy of our respect and emulation.

  9. Can we expect a mass resignation of the Catholic state and federal judges? Nah.. they do divorces, death penalties, same sex marriages whatever..they spent their lives weaseling to get them. Clerks can easily get another job.

  10. There used to be a law in place that allowed people to live according to their religious conscience. (Church ammendment?) This is really a problem in today’s medical establishment where young students are required to do Pro-choice procedures.

  11. Isn’t the clerk’s signature merely certifying that the state’s (minimal) requirements for civil marriage are legally met? I don’t expect the clerk at the county treasurer’s office to decide whether the taxes I’m paying is a morally fair share, or the DMV clerk to decide whether she personally believes I should drive at night. If she wants to sacrifice her job to make a personal protest, that’s fine, but it’s not morally necessary.

  12. Steve,

    There is one big problem with your analogy. She did not sign up for a job to sign gay marriage certificates and then have a change of heart. She signed up for the job of county clerk and had that job redefined to include one task that was incompatible with her conscience. That is a huge difference. The job wasn’t at odds with her conscience, the way she was soon to be required to do her job was.

  13. I rather see our energies focused on ensuring everyone, everywhere has a safe bed to sleep in everynight…once this is done, then, perhaps, then we can take a look at who is sleeping with who. Can we get back to what the gospel teaches? We will hear this Sunday that God’s Love (the Kingdon of Heaven) is like a mustard seed (which is an invasive weed)

    Only God would sow mustard seeds…seeds that are rejected by most and thus this parable reminds us that God’s love encompasses all and reaches even those that are rejected… those who are on the fringes…those who are broken. God’s love reaches the divorced, the gay, the depressed, the homeless, the jobless, the addicted.

    Stop looking at others and trying to separate the weed from the wheat and let them grow together. If God is okay with that….then good enough for me.

  14. Sad to say, there is probably a majority of Catholics today who would be only too willing to sharpen the axe that chopped off St. Thomas More’s head. (Or help bludgeon St. Thomas Becket, or help march Church Father St John Chrysostom into the desert.) Courage and backbone are always in short supply in most times and places. Going along to get along is the 11th Commandment for many and is probably the most popular–especially here in America.

  15. She signed up for a job to administer the laws of the land. Not some of the laws. Not just the ones she happens to agree with. All of them. All the time.

    A government job is not a birthright. It’s a privilege and a call to service to something greater than oneself. It is not easy. It is not for everyone. Government workers, from the lowest social worker to the highest judge and president, often have to do things they find distasteful or contrary to their conscience. They’re charged with taking people’s kids away, turning people out of their own homes in foreclosures or tax seizures. Putting people in jail who sometimes don’t belong there. Turning murderers loose. In the military, you have to obey lawful orders even if you know your CO is an idiot. Even if you know the course of action is unwise and will cost lives. You don’t get to act as your own personal Supreme Court to vacate this law or that. If we did allow that, the rule of law would be meaningless. Law enforcement by personal fiat is what they do in Somalia or tribal Pakistan.

    As I say, it’s not an easy thing. If you don’t like your duty, work though channels to change it or step aside. I have a lot of respect for people who make that sacrifice and walk away out of conscience. That’s living by your beliefs when push comes to shove. I have zero respect for those who don’t perform their duty and cry victim.

  16. Dominick writes: “I know that this will probably be taken wrong, and I am not discounting the decision these women have made, however do you think that in their careers they issued marriage licenses to divorced Catholics who have not had previous marriages annulled? Isn’t that also participating in helping others commit the sin of adultery?”

    This is actually an interesting question.

    The average lay Catholic has no basis on which to judge a man and a woman approaching him/her for a civil marriage license. The Catholic clerk does not know how many civil marriages will be valid natural marriages, valid supernatural marriages (e.g., performed according to Church law), or putatively invalid marriages. For instance, when my husband and I got our civil marriage license we didn’t have to mention that the actual wedding would take place in a Catholic Church between two Catholics who had never attempted marriage before, were free by Church law to marry, and according to the proper form for a valid sacramental marriage–and the clerk would never have asked us any of that.

    So it is possible for a Catholic clerk to issue civil marriage licenses in the hope that the couples obtaining them will be entering at least valid natural marriages, and hopefully, whenever possible, valid supernatural ones. However, this hope disappears when two men or two women ask for a “marriage” license, as such a “marriage” is demonstrably invalid, according to centuries of Christian thought and Church teaching, both by natural law principles and by any sacramental ones. In fact, such a marriage is “valid” only by a legal fiction which declares that marriage no longer necessarily involves the act of sexual intercourse and that the legal definition of consummation (without which marriages in at least 30 states can be annulled) no longer applies to these new “marriages.”

    So long as male/female couples were asking for civil marriage licenses, Catholic clerks could comply with these requests in good conscience, even if they didn’t know all of the circumstances of the couple in question. However, the minute a male/male or female/female pair approaches and asks for a license, the clerk must either go along with the absurd new legal fiction that these parings are a “marriage,” or quit his/her job, as the clerk in this story has done.

  17. “Stop looking at others and trying to separate the weed from the wheat and let them grow together. If God is okay with that….then good enough for me.”

    Let me get my guitar so we can sing Kumbaya.

  18. Kenneth, what is involved in this case is NOT a decision based on “personal fiat,” no matter how much you or Steve or Jim would prefer to construct it that way. Nor is the decision to obey any of the Ten Commandments a matter of personal taste, but rather our foremost obligation in existence, ahead of anything that might appear in our secular job descriptions. That’s why the Church tells even soldiers in combat that they have a moral responsibility to resist orders that violate human rights. For “the divorced, the gay, the depressed, the homeless, the jobless, the addicted” (as, of course, for us all), salvation depends not only on God’s love but on our faithfully and dutifully responding to that love by doing God’s will.

  19. Her decision may well be driven by what she feels is a higher calling, and that’s why I support her standing up (or rather down) for her beliefs. We don’t, however, pay people tax dollars to enforce what they believe is divine law, and we never will.

  20. I note that the quotation, “I had to choose between my job and my god,” has “god” written with a small “g”. In English, this is always an indication that the god in question is a false god. In situations where believing pagans (sorry, many modern pagans are play-acting, like the Satanists who do not believe in Satan) mention their deities, they use a capital “G”. The link to quotes Ms. Fotusky’s letter of resignation directly, and it shows that she uses capital “G”s in reference to God.

    Therefore, whoever decided to use a small “g” was editorializing on her letter by implying that the God she worships is a false god. It’s an editorial, but not a very honest editorial, since it is smuggled into her quote rather than stated explicitly.

    Who is responsible for this dishonest editorial?

  21. Steve and Jim, hi brothers. Any good Catholic apologist would, I say charitably, destroy the theories you have made for yourselves, by using the OT, NT, the Magisterium, and our Lord’s own words and deeds, against those theories.

  22. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    She of course lost here freedom because government passed a law which prohibited her free excercise of her religon. The separation of church and state is a lie and is no where in the Constitution. It is fiction work by judges who distorted the text to get the outcome they wanted which was to get God out of the public sector. By sitting back and allowing this over time, we have lost one freedom after another.

    The same type of judges also used a reconstruction amendment for freed black male slaves to give gays these special rights. Note the gay marriage rights are “special” because those who want to marry that are incest or poligamy related are currently denied these rights by law, even if the say mom who loves her son cannot have children leaving the genetic argument out. The guy who has 6 women who are all consenting adults and deeply in love are denied their rights. When this get full court blessing for gay marriage, none of this will be able to be blocked and every perversion under the sun must be allowed based on this legal precedent. So for anyone to not see this as the first step in the total assult on marriage and our moral society is simply not paying attention. This lady is simply the first victim of thousands to come whose rights are being destroyed as we speak..

  23. Steve:

    You don’t cite natual law in your arguments, I would advise you to read St Thomas Aquina’s treatise on law. here’s a part of his treatise on human law:

    Question: Whether human law binds a man in conscience?

    Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of
    God. But sometimes God’s commandments are made void by human laws, according to Mat. 15:6:
    “You have made void the commandment of God for your tradition.” Therefore human law does
    not bind a man in conscience.

    Reply to Objection 2: This argument is true of laws that are contrary to the commandments
    of God, which is beyond the scope of (human) power. Wherefore in such matters human law should
    not be obeyed.

    natural law applies to self preservation, the just war theory…so selling guns and bullets is not inherently evil.

  24. Quiting is her choice—I”m sure someone else will be happy to have the job she left behind.

  25. “Quiting is her choice—I”m sure someone else will be happy to have the job she left behind.”

    I can imagine just such a statement being made in Sodom when one of the last ten righteous men in the city became disgusted and moved away. Then there came a day when Abraham had to argue for the preservation of the city, and he was assured that it would not be destroyed for the sake of ten righteous men. But the tenth had already moved away.

  26. She ought to have waited until she was forced to perform such a marriage before leaving so she could make a discrimination claim.

  27. Thank you for this post. Many comments were rich.
    @Francis – Thank you for the link.

  28. Thanks for the non sequitur, Frank. We all appreciate just how much a report by the Irish government has to do with actions by the New York legislature.

  29. It’s too bad this woman is taking such a drastic step. She could have probably learned a lot by being witness to the love of 2 people making a major commitment of marriage who just happen to be of the same sex. She would find that the teachings of her faith are nothing but fear-based and not based on facts. There is NOTHING different in the lives of straight people or gay people who are in love and want to be married. Well nothing different other than gay people are greatly persecuted for it. It’s a shame that so many people don’t really know what gay people are REALLY like.

  30. “Greatly persecuted”??? In Iran, perhaps. Here in the USA honest discussion of gay relationships has become nearly impossible thanks to the PC preference for the sort of wishful thinking evident in Todd’s post here.

    Besides, even if it were true that gay sexual relationships were very similar to those of heterosexuals, that in no way justifies changing the definition of marriage so that it is no longer regarded as the primary means by which society ensures its continuity into the future.

  31. This has nothing to do with any fear-based issues and everything to do with her defending what God has revealed and taught by the Catholic Church. Homosexual activity is sinful. Kudos to her for having a properly formed conscience and acting out on it.

  32. “There is NOTHING different in the lives of straight people or gay people who are in love and want to be married.”

    What an outrageously dumb statement. Can homosexuals now procreate?

  33. Somewhere back in time a similar event took place in the Diocese of San Antonio.

    A devout Roman Catholic Hispanic man (could have been Anglo or even a woman — as far as that goes) was hired to work at PANTEX. This is the company that was charged with manufacturing nuclear weapons for the U. S. Air Force.

    His case became quite a stir in Catholic periodicals at that time. His salary was WAY above the prevailing rates for industrial jobs in his area and he had a large family. He was very quality focused and, being a Hispanic, that made him doubly attractive for the company. He was paid very well.

    He was VERY willing to leave PANTEX — nuclear weapons can be such a moral challenge — and take another position somewhere else, but nothing available could match his salary at PANTEX. He even appealed to the local bishop about how to get put of this impossible situation but that bishop at that time had no suggestions — needless to say the diocesan structure was not prepared to pay him that level of income.

    I have totally forgotten what was the resolution of this story. Maybe someone else knows.

  34. Wow!

    Can I go back to the mid-late 1950’s. My Dad’s KofC Council welcomed a transfer from out east somewhere. In fact, for a short period of time, I had a “”crush” on this guy’s daughter.

    THEN, the guys in that KofC council realized that this new member was a long-time, experienced “Projection Booth Operator” and that his new job in the area was a major Drive-In Movie site in that area that had recently changed their format from “family-friendly” to the 1950’s equivalent of “XXX.”

    The situation was similar. He was willing to leave that drive-in but needed a comparable job with comparable salary for the sake of his family.

    Frankly, I have no idea what the final end result was EXCEPT that the young lady I had a crush on never went to a Catholic/ Parochial High School at all. Dad probably could not afford it. BTW: This young lady later married someone else and was an active member in her RC parish as an adult the last time I checked.

  35. Ok, so these ladies resign because they feel they can’t license gay marriages. So far, so good. However, how do they then have no problem with licensing civil marriages when these simply allow people to live together and commit the sin of fornication? (not being a real marriage within the Church) How are they comfortable with okaying ‘marriages’ when one of the partners is already married, especially if one of the partners has been married in the Church? The decision to resign is a good one, but we need to become more morally convinced about recognizing the division that separates what is truly right from what is truly wrong, even when that wrong has been clad with a man-made veneer of respectability. Great difficulties and I believe, persecution, lie ahead in the not-too-distant future. We have to be, indeed we should already be, ready to stand up and be counted. Whatever the cost…

  36. She certainly presents a better witness to Christ than the NY bishops. The Church has compromised with the world in an attempt to appear sophisticated, scholarly, tolerant in the eyes of the world. They are compromising with the same world that Christ said to be “in” but not “of.” The world that St John says contains only the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 JN 2:16). Christ, Who alone is the Truth, did not compromise the truth, and we must not either, regardless of the cost in the eyes of the world.

    Homosexuality is not an inherent condition: it is a behavior. If you do not commit homosexual acts, you are not a homosexual, any more than one who stops stealing remains a thief. Homosexuality is a behavior, a lifestyle and a world view that is completely opposed to the truly Catholic worldview.

    So I salute Laura Fotusky for her faith and her courage. The Christianity of Jesus and the Apostles and martyrs is not easy. It requires, not requests, but requires such faith, courage and commitment. We all need to be as deeply committed as she.

  37. Peppin #43

    “However, how do they then have no problem with licensing civil marriages when these simply allow people to live together and commit the sin of fornication? (not being a real marriage within the Church) How are they comfortable with okaying ‘marriages’ when one of the partners is already married, especially if one of the partners has been married in the Church?”

    Wait a minute. I am not understanding you at all. AND if I take what you said at face value, you are yourself promoting a vision of human marriage that our church does NOT teach.

    It certainly is not a stretch to say that over 80% of the marriages between a man and a woman that exist in this wide world were never witnessed by Roman Catholic clergy. BUT the church does respect those marriages as true and valid AND, if the couple were baptized in another non-Catholic denomination and their marriage vows were witnessed by a Christian pastoral leader, that not only is a valid marriage it is also a licit one.

    Are you sure you want to take the stance that all marriages that have not been witnessed by Roman Catholic clergy are (using your words) “civil marriages when these simply allow people to live together and commit the sin of fornication? (not being a real marriage within the Church).” For non-Catholics as well? Really !

  38. Only one question….Why did this same clerk not leave the Catholic Church when it was discovered (many times over) that the Catholic Church moved Priests (from parish to parish) with knowledge that these Priest were abusing countless children??

    I for one could not (and would not) condone this behavior. This is why I no longer consider myself Catholic.

    What I cannot understand is the hated towards people who are gay…I really wish someone could explain it to me. For people who believe it is a choice to be gay; I have only one question, when did you choose to be heterosexual?

    I am not gay, I am just tired of reading about people who feel their lifestyle is takes the moral high ground.

  39. #31-Howard–not being in that city at the time, I can’t verify or deny what happened in Sodom. With jobs being hard to get these days, a vacancy is always appreciated. :o)

  40. I wonder if she would have quit back in the day when it became legal for interacial marriages to occur? Hummmm.

  41. Interracial marriage was never against Catholic teaching, and I don’t think it was ever against the law in New York. So it wouldn’t have been an issue.

  42. Interracial marriage is not the same as gay “marriage”. Interracial marriage is two people, a male and a female, marrying. It is valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church because in the context of that marriage children can be – though will not necessarily – naturally conceived and born. The same cannot be said truthfully about gay “marriage” as it is inherently sterile, and therefore invalid. In vitro fertilization and surrogacy do not change that fact, they simply mask it.

  43. LOL Really sad and pathetic that my last post was REMOVED!
    I could understand if I used profane language or something, but no somebody didn’t like that what I had was making to much sense for them.

  44. Disregarding the fact that some feel that same gender marriage is wrong because procreation isn’t possible without outside intervention, at one time interracial marriage was considered just as ‘sinful” by many people. Mixing of the races used to be considered very, very wrong.

  45. pagansister,

    The opposition to mixing of races was “considered very, very wrong” by a limited number of people at some periods. In many states of the union, there were no anti-miscegenation laws. In the Spanish and Portuguese empires race-mixing was common. The limited attempt by racists to restrict the availability of marriage is a far different thing from the hitherto universal recognition that the permanent union of man and woman is a special institution in its own right.

  46. Those too blind to see their own hate and contempt for others need to go home and listen to their Anita Bryant record or read their holy book. I do not feel any mercy, pity, compassion, or admiration for these. It is an improvement each time a contemptuous person is forced out of the system. It was said of those who committed WWII atrocities in Europe: “Those people who are prepared to indiscriminately kill their fellow humans without empathy often are ordinary people who cherish their gardens and play with their dogs and their children.”

  47. Here is the problem with that reasoning. Problem #1. In order to remarry you will need to show your divorce decree. Problem #2. All people obtaining a civil license are not all Catholics. The Catholic Church recognizes the marriages of other religions, or none, in civi court as valid. As such they TOO cannot divorce and remarry. Question. Are these clerks assuming that these divorced and remarrying non-Catholics have petitioned the Catholic Church for an annulment to invalidate their 1st, or 2nd, etc., marriages? Come on.

    What you don’t know can’t hurt you? That is a pretty big assumption given the divorce rate at 50% You tell me what are the odds of her “condoning adultery”? I wonder what these faithull Catholic Court Clerks would have done if good, ole, Rudy came before them? How many of them would have refused to marry HIM???? Yes, under their religion they would have had to REFUSE to marry the Mayor!

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