Gay couple denied a marriage license – NY Gov. Cuomo is not pleased
All Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften, of Root, New York, wanted was to get a marriage license. They went to their local courthouse to get one, but Town Clerk Laurel Eriksen turned them away.
According to Town Attorney Robert Subik, everyone applying for a marriage license has to make an appointment with the clerk to do so, ostensibly because she and her deputy are not full time employees.
But, Subik told The Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY, that the requirement for an appointment wasn’t the only reason. He said, “"She [Eriksen] 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. 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.”
Which misses the point. She was apparently there and turned Hurd and Toften away.
Same-sex marriages have been legally recognized in the state of New York since June 2011, when the Marriage Equality Act was passed by the state Legislature and signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The couple were able to obtain their license in another town, but that didn’t end the story.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was not pleased. He issued a statement saying, “Personally I cannot believe that this could happen anywhere in this country, let alone in the state of New York. 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.”
He also said denying the license was “an unconscionable act of discrimination that goes against our values as New Yorkers.”
In addition, he ordered the state Division of Human Rights to launch an investigation.
And then the governor took to Twitter, saying, “This is an expansion of the Trumpian philosophy: they are against marriage equality and they are substituting their philosophy for the law. 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.”
“Mr. Subik said Ms. Eriksen informed the couple that the town’s deputy clerk had no objection to issuing a license to a same-sex couple and would assist them if they made an appointment,” reported The New York Times.
“’I think she handled it professionally,’ he [Subik] said of Ms. Eriksen. “She gave them an option for them to achieve their goal with another person in her office, and they were certainly free to do that.’
“He added, ‘If they make an appointment, the deputy clerk will handle it expeditiously and very professionally.’
“Of Mr. Cuomo, he said, ‘His comments are not reflective of the facts of the case, and he’s twisting it around for his own purposes.’
“But, Alphonso David, the governor’s counsel, said individuals have obtained licenses from the town without appointments.
“’You cannot say I’m not going to provide you a government service because I have a religious objection,’ he said.”
At that point, the governor took it a step further, saying, “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.”
No word yet on whether Hurd and Toften are taking Gov. Cuomo up on his offer.
Copyright The Gayly – August 3, 2018 @ 3 p.m. CDT.