Volney clerk under fire for same-sex marriage remarks

Barbara MacEwen / photo: Brian Erb

T he Town of Volney in rural Oswego County may seem an unlikely place to become the center of debate over same sex marriage, but that's exactly what happened because of some comments made by the Town Clerk.

B arbara MacEwen has been the Volney Town Clerk for 18 years. For all of those 18 years, one of her duties has been to sign her name to marriage licenses. When the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo approved same-sex marriage last week, MacEwen expressed her reluctance to provide marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples , based on her religious beliefs.

" I 'm Christian, and God said in his word... that he abhors same sex - men with men, women with women" says MacEwen.

S ince her comments became public , MacEwen has been thrust into a state-wide controversy. She says she's been getting calls of both support and opposition from across New York.

"I was surprised about the number of them. This is a small town, and I was surprised that they came from New York City and Brooklyn."

S tate Senator David Carlucci of Rockland County said MacEwen should consider resigning. Carlucci said "While I respect Ms. MacEwen's personal views... I do not agree that she has the right to deny same sex couples."

B ut MacEwen says she never said she would deny issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and is promising to follow the law even though she disagrees with it.

" I feel I have a right to my opinion, and I never said I wouldn't sign it. I don't feel morally that I should. I don't feel I should sign them but I will... I want to make that clear. I will sign it. I will do my job. I took an oath."

B arbara MacEwen says she will not resign over her personal opposition to gay marriage. She's running for election this year, unopposed - at least for now.

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