Gay couple denied marriage license in New York
Welcome to 2018, where Supreme Court decisions apparently hold no weight, or at least not in the case of the gay couple who was denied a marriage license in upstate New York. Couple Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften went to the county courthouse local to their home in Root, NY to obtain a marriage license. For no legal reason, the couple was denied a marriage license by county clerk Laurel “Sherrie” Eriksen. Look out, Kim Davis, you’ve got competition.
To refresh your memory, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in the United States in 2015 with its ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Plain and simple, you can’t deny an LGBTQ+ couple a marriage license (just in case you missed that part, Laurel). And if that wasn’t enough, marriage equality has been legally recognized in New York state since June of 2011.
Toften took to Facebook to share the couple’s experience, calling the Town of Root bigoted and sharing their experience of Eriksen telling them to make an appointment with someone else.
Town Attorney Robert Subik came to the defense of Eriksen, saying that the couple not receiving a license was based on the fact that they had not made the required appointment.
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.
Subik did, however, admit that Eriksen’s religious beliefs played a role in her decision.
“Though Ms. Eriksen did mention her personal objection to same-sex marriage to the couple, Mr. Subik said, she did not deny the couple the license because of her personal views,” according to The New York Times. “He said people requesting licenses are required to make appointments in advance because Ms. Eriksen is a part-time employee.”
New York’s Governor Cuomo has launched an investigation by the Human Rights Division into why Eriksen denied the couple a marriage license.
Individuals refusing service to the LGBTQ+ community has been on the rise since the Supreme Court sided with the baker in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, deeming it alright for the bakery to have refused service to a gay couple because of the baker’s religious views.
“This is an expansion of the Trumpian philosophy: they are against marriage equality and they are substituting their philosophy for the law,” Governor Cuomo shared on Twitter. “I don’t care if the clerk is opposed to marriage equality that’s her right but she can’t impose her will onto others in violation of the law.”
In the event that the Human Rights Division finds Root’s clerk office in violation of New York State law, the Human Rights Division can file a claim against the town or its officers.