News (USA)

Governor offers to marry gay couple denied a marriage license

Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd
Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd Photo: Facebook

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has offered to officiate the wedding of two gay men who were denied a marriage license by a local town clerk.

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.

After being alerted that the clerk had refused the couple a license, Governor Cuomo ordered the state Division of Human Rights to launch an 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.”

But in a statement to The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Cuomo took it a step further.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I would like to congratulate Dylan Toften and his future husband on their marriage,” he said. “I invite them to come to Albany, and I would be happy to offer my services as an officiant at their wedding.”

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.

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