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N.Y. Clerk Who Refused Gay Marriage Licenses Wins Re-election

LEDYARD, N.Y. (RNS) The town clerk in Ledyard, N.Y., who drew national attention after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples won re-election on Tuesday (Nov. 8).
Incumbent Rose Marie Belforti, a Republican, defeated Ed Easter, of Aurora, who launched a write-in candidacy about six weeks ago after learning of his opponent’s stance against New York’s new Marriage Equality Act.

The unofficial results gave Belforti a 305-to-186 victory—her sixth straight two-year term as the town’s part-time clerk. Belforti thanked supporters and said they “chose religious freedom over religious intolerance.”

Her position polarized residents in this mostly rural town of about 1,900 residents on the east side of Cayuga Lake.

Belforti, 57, unsuspectingly found herself in the middle of an emerging test case after she told the town board in August that her Christian beliefs prevented her from issuing a same-sex marriage license to a Florida lesbian couple that owns a farm in nearby Springport.

Belforti said she should not have to relinquish her religious freedoms to do her town job, which pays $13,002 a year. The town has since asked a deputy clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in hopes that action will be considered to be in compliance with the state’s Marriage Equality Act, which was passed in June.

(Scott Rapp writes for The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y.)