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Backlash over same-sex marriage legislation

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Backlash over same-sex marriage legislation
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Push back against the passage of the same-sex marriage law is already occurring across the state, including a town clerk who doesn't want her name on a same-sex couple's marriage license and a Central New York limo driver says he won't be taking same-sex couples to their wedding in his limo. Our Katie Gibas reports on the backlash and what the legal ramifications could be.

CENTRAL NE WYORK -- Eric Lewis is the owner of the A-1 Limousine Company that serves Central New York. He says he received a call Tuesday morning from a homosexual couple who wanted to use his limo service for their wedding.

"It's not my right to say, 'Oh, are you gay? Or homosexual?' I don't believe it's fair for me to say that. But when he asked me, I felt I had the right to say what I believed and that is that I'm not going to compromise my beliefs for money," said Eric Lewis, the Owner A1 Limousine Company.

The man calling for the limo service claimed discrimination and that he was going to call a lawyer. Now, Lewis has to figure out what his rights are.

"I'm not a homophobe or any discrimination or anything like that. I just believe that we should have the choice of who we allow to do business with," said Lewis.

Charles Sprock, the President-Elect of the LGBT Bar Foundation, said, "That could be construed as discrimination based on sexual orientation because at this juncture same-sex marriage is not illegal in New York, so they can't say that they're opposed to it because it's an illegal act."

If a vendor backs out once everything is booked because they learn the couple is homosexual that would be considered discrimination under the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. But in the end, Sprock says it might just be better to scope out wedding vendors who are okay with a same-sex marriage to avoid issues on the wedding day.

"For every vendor that's out there who has an issue with same sex marriage, I'm sure that there are three or four or five others who would love the business," said Sprock.

Barbara MacEwen has been the Volney Town Clerk for 18 years, which means she signs all the town's marriage licenses. But now, she says she has a dilemma between her job and her religion.

"I really wouldn't feel comfortable putting my name on a marriage license. I don't really call it a marriage because a marriage is between a man and woman. God said that in his word," said Barbara MacEwen, the Volney Town Clerk.

MacEwen says if she is forced to choose between signing a same-sex marriage license or face losing her job, she will probably agree to sign. Though she hopes it doesn't come to that.

MacEwen hopes the town can find alternatives by either having registrars come in to deal with certificates for same-sex couples, or having gay couples come in by appointment when someone else is working.

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