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Ledyard, New York Town Board Fails to Uphold NY Marriage Equality Act

Press Release
Miranda Blue or Justin Greenberg
People For the American Way Foundation
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PFAW Foundation Launches Petition Calling For Equal Enforcement


After meeting Monday night, the Town Board of Ledyard, NY has failed to address the Ledyard Town Clerk’s refusal to fulfill her lawful obligations and sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The meeting was held after People For the American Way Foundation, working with the law firm Proskauer Rose, LLP, sent a letter to the town supervisor demanding that the town clerk be directed to certify the marriages of same-sex couples or to resign. The letter was sent on behalf of Katie Carmichael and Deirdre DiBiaggio, who satisfied all the legal requirements and appeared before the town clerk for a license on August 30 but were turned away.

To keep up the pressure, People For the American Way Foundation has launched a petition calling on Ledyard Town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti to do her job according to the law or else resign.

“Elected officials can’t pick and choose which laws they’ll follow,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way Foundation. “The state of New York did the right thing by offering the protections of marriage to same-sex couples. It’s not up to individual officials in particular towns to decide whether or not they’ll adhere to the law.”

The clerk, Marie Belforti, had publicly stated that she would refuse to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, and in order to do so, she received the town’s permission to stop certifying marriages altogether. Ms. Carmichael and Ms. DiBiaggio were told to return at a later date by appointment only and a subordinate official would sign their marriage license.

“The Ledyard Town Board’s attempt to dodge the issue is inexcusable,” said Keegan. “The Board needs to make clear that it’s going to do everything in its power to enforce state law and make sure that same-sex couples can access the protections that come with civil marriage.”

People For the American Way Foundation, with the assistance of Proskauer Rose, LLP continues to represent Ms. Carmichael and Ms. DiBiaggio, and is committed to ensuring that the fundamental American principles of equality and justice are a reality for all.