A gay couple from upstate New York were denied a marriage license by the town clerk and now even the Governor is getting involved.
Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften from Root, New York, went to the local courthouse expecting to walk away with a marriage license. Town clerk Laurel Eriksen, however, turned them away.
Toften posted on Facebook that Eriksen told them to make an appointment with a different clerk. Town Attorney Robert Subik originally claimed the lack of an appointment was part of the problem.
Eriksen “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 told the Daily Gazette. Still, he admitted that her religious beliefs also played a major role in her refusal.
“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 said. “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.”
Toften and Hurd got a license in a different city, but Toften says they won’t stop until they get justice.
“She took an oath to hold New Yorks laws. She can be let go for this at the state level and I plan on pursuing it to that.”
After being alerted that the clerk had refused the couple a license, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the state Division of Human Rights to launch a investigation.
“Personally I cannot believe that this could happen anywhere in this country, let alone in the state of New York,” he said 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.”
Editor’s note: The story has been corrected to say that Eriksen is a town clerk and not a county clerk.