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Town clerk forced to apologize for denying gay couple marriage license

Town clerk forced to apologize for denying gay couple marriage license

Sherrie Eriksen reading her apology

A New York town clerk has given a public apology to a gay couple she refused a marriage license to last year.

Gay couple Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd went to the town clerk on 30 July in Root, New York — a small town outside of Albany — to get their marriage license.

But town clerk Sherrie Eriksen denied their request.

New York couple Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd
Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd | Photo: Facebook/Dylan Toften

She initially claimed the refusal to offer them a marriage license was because they did not make an appointment beforehand. But she also has deeply held religious beliefs against same-sex marriage.

After Eriksen turned away the gay couple, they took to social media to share their story. Toften also tagged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo into the social media post.

Cuomo responded: ‘Marriage equality is our law in NY. The denial of a license to a same-sex couple is an unconscionable act of discrimination.’

He also reportedly opened an investigation into what happened.

The apology

The town settled a lawsuit brought by the men for $25,000 and a public apology from Eriksen.

Now, eight months after denying the gay couple their marriage license, Sherrie Eriksen has officially made her public apology.

She said: ‘In my capacity as town clerk, it is my responsibility to provide marriage licenses to all couples, regardless of sex or sexual orientation. So long as they meet all applicable New York state requirements.

‘As such, my office and I will personally issue marriage licenses to any couple without exception, who is legally entitled to be issued one.

‘On 30 July of last year, there was an unfortunate incident involving Mr Thomas Hurd and Mr Dylan Toften, who came to my office seeking a marriage license.

‘I am sorry for any harm or inconvenience my actions caused the couple,’ she said.

Toften and Hurd ended up getting a marriage license in a different New York town. They are now married.

‘No one should have to experience discrimination because of who they love’

At the time, HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy reiterated Cuomo’s sentiments to Gay Star News. He called it discrimination ‘plain and simple’.

‘No one should have to experience discrimination because of who they love,’ he said. ‘It’s also against the law in New York State, and we appreciate that Governor Cuomo is taking action, leading an investigation into what happened, and standing up for the equal rights and dignity of LGBTQ people.’

Melanie Trimble, director of Capital Region chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also commented on the situation.

‘Government officials who have sworn an oath to uphold the law cannot just pick and choose who they will serve and who they won’t.

‘Nobody should be denied access to public services simply because of who they are or who they love,’ she said.

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