April 15, 1998

Ms. Margaret A. Beck
Town Clerk
Town of Pittsford
11 South Main Street
Pittsford, NY 14534

The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue
advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the
information presented in your correspondence.

Dear Ms. Beck:

I have received your letter of March 27 in which you referred to an
article concerning access to marriage licenses that appeared in the Town

Specifically, you referred to my comment that in many instances, at
least one of the applicants for a license is a resident of the municipality in
which the license is sought. You wrote that that has been so in only thirty-four percent of the applications in the Town of Pittsford. As such, you
questioned why the municipality of an applicant's residence should be

In my view, the issue, as discussed at some length in the article,
involves whether disclosure would constitute "an unwarranted invasion of
personal privacy." From my perspective, the municipality of one's residence
is not so intimate a detail of a person's life that disclosure would be offensive
or viewed as so private or secret that its release would rise to the level of
being an "unwarranted" invasion of one's privacy. Unlike a social security
number, a unique identifier, or medical information, the municipality of
residence is simply not so personal that an agency, in my opinion, could meet
the burden of demonstrating that disclosure represents so significant an
invasion of privacy that it could be characterized as "unwarranted."

I hope that I have been of assistance.


Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director