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By Dan Wiessner
Reuters

HUDSON, New York (Reuters) – A town clerk in western New York has resigned to avoid being forced to sign marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples, citing religious objections to same-sex marriage.

Laura Fotusky, the town clerk in Barker, New York, said in her resignation letter that she will step down on July 21, three days before New York becomes the sixth and largest state to allow gay nuptials.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the same sex marriage law last month after the bill narrowly passed the Republican-led state Senate. Its approval in New York is seen as a catalyst for gay marriage elsewhere as well as helping push the issue to the forefront nationally ahead of the 2012 elections.

Much of the debate in New York focused on the scope of protections for those opposed to same-sex marriage. The new law exempts religious groups from performing same-sex marriages but does not extend those protections to individuals, including government employees.

Fotusky was not immediately available for comment, but in her letter, dated July 11, she said she believes the Bible takes precedence over man-made laws.

“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,” she wrote. “I would be compromising my moral conscience if I participated in the licensing procedure,” she wrote.

According to New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative Christian nonprofit group that circulated Fotusky’s letter to the media, she is the first clerk in the state to resign over objections to same-sex nuptials. But she is not the first to raise concerns.

Two weeks ago, the town clerk in the Syracuse suburb of Volney cited her own religious objections and requested that outside help be brought in to sign same-sex marriage licenses.

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