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New York County clerk denies marriage license to gay couple partly because of religious beliefs

Gay couple denied marriage license in Root, NY.
Photo credit:
Town of Root

Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften from Root, New York were denied a marriage license by the county clerk partly because of her religious beliefs. 

The couple went to the courthouse to get the official document but County Clerk Laurel Eriksen left them empty-handed. 

Toften wrote a small post on his Facebook page about the incident calling Eriksen a "bigot" and implored the clerk to do her job. 

Some of the blame was given to the couple by Town Attorney Robert Subik. He said the clerk, "didn’t process the two men’s marriage license application because they failed to make an appointment with her, as everyone is required by her office to do."

Subik also admitted that Eriksen's refusal did stem from her religious beliefs as well.

“She has a religious objection and has referred the matter to her deputy clerk, who has no such objection and will issue the license when they make an appointment,” Subik explained. “The clerks are both part-time and don’t man the office Monday through Friday. Of course, the two men are free to go to another jurisdiction to obtain their license.”

The men moved on and got their license from another county, but they won't be satisfied until justice is served. 

“She took an oath to hold New Yorks laws," said Toften. "She can be let go for this at the state level and I plan on pursuing it to that.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo got wind of the situation and ordered the state Division of Human Rights to investigate. 

“Personally I cannot believe that this could happen anywhere in this country, let alone in the state of New York,” said the governor in a statement. “Marriage equality is the law of the land, and it has been in New York since we were the first big state to pass marriage equality in 2011.”

With the newly formed "religious liberty task force" the ACLU’s Capital Region chapter will be watching the situation to see if it will go beyond the state level.

“That’s unconstitutional in the state of New York. The law clearly states that anybody who wants to get married can, and the clerks are government employees and ought to, therefore, provide services,” Melanie Trimble, of the ACLU Capital Region chapter, said.