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New York town clerk refuses marriage license to same-sex couple

A challenge to New York's same-sex marriage law has surfaced just months after our state enacted a law permitting people of the same sex to wed. A town clerk in the small town of Ledyard recently refused to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, claiming doing so would be against her religious beliefs. This issue is being closely followed by attorneys who practice family law because the law allowing same-sex couples to marry is so new that courts, lawyers and government officials have not developed a uniform way of dealing with it.

The town clerk refused to issue a marriage license to the two women because she said doing so was against her religious beliefs.

Ledyard government officials have decided to stand behind the town clerk's decision, declaring they cannot force the elected official to sign a marriage license. Because of this, the couple who was refused the license believes local officials are also guilty of breaking the law.

The town clerk has taken her case to the media, declaring to the affiliate of a conservative group that she felt the wording of the new state marriage license forms blurred the definition of marriage partners. She stated that the use of the word "spouse" in place of "bride" and "groom" could be interpreted to mean that even non-humans could be legally married.

The clerk asserts that she is being discriminated against for her religious beliefs, while the same-sex couple say they are the ones who have been singled out for discrimination.

Some legal advocacy groups supporting the spurned same-sex couple have called for the town clerk to be fired or to make a choice -- resign or issue licenses according to state law. Another legal group, espousing socially conservative views, has vowed to support the town clerk's position.

The couple who was turned away from the Ledyard clerk's office stated they are pursuing legal options.

Source: The Huffington Post, "New York Town Clerk Refuses to Let Same-Sex Couple Get Married," Tyler Kingkade, Sept. 17, 2011

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