Sherrie Eriksen, the clerk for the small town of Root, New York, made national news when she refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple in late 2018. Now she’s done something no other anti-gay clerk has done.
She has publicly apologized for her actions and the hurt they caused the community.
When Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften applied for a license, Eriksen turned them away. She said they didn’t have an appointment and she opposed same-sex marriages based off her religious beliefs.
The denial ricocheted around the internet after Toften posted about it on social media. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo offered to perform their wedding ceremony and launched an investigation into the matter.
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.”
The town settled a lawsuit brought by the men for $25,000 and a public apology from Eriksen.
“It is my responsibility to provide marriage licenses to all couples, regardless of sex or sexual orientation,” said Eriksen during her apology. She stressed that no more licenses would be denied.
“She did acknowledge that there was an injustice done, and she’s vowed to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and that’s what this was all about,” Hurd said.
Toften and Hurd got a license in a different city. They are now married.
Town of Root clerk apologizes tonight 8 months after denying a gay couple their marriage license. The town has also reached a cash settlement with the couple. Hear from them tonight only on @CBS6Albany #MarriageEquality #LoveIsLove pic.twitter.com/e39x399HRK
— Emily DeFeciani (@CBS6_Emily) April 11, 2019