State investigates town clerk’s denial of marriage license
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — An investigation will be conducted into a small-town clerk’s denial of a marriage license for a same-sex couple, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
The Democrat has directed the state Human Rights Division agency to investigate Laurel “Sherrie” Eriksen’s recent decision not to issue a license to Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften, who wrote about the rejection on his Facebook page Monday .
Officials in the town of Root, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Albany, said Eriksen’s job is part-time and she declined to issue the license because the couple hadn’t made an appointment. Robert Subik, the town’s attorney, acknowledged that Eriksen said she mentioned her personal objection to same-sex marriage to the couple.
Subik told The New York Times that Eriksen also told the couple that the town’s deputy clerk would assist them if they made an appointment.
“I think she handled it professionally,” Subik said. “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.”
When contacted at her office Friday morning by The Associated Press, Eriksen declined to comment.
“We’re not making any comments at this time. Thank you,” said Eriksen, whose office hours posted on the town’s website show she works 16 hours a week over four days.
Toften’s Facebook posting included two photographs of Eriksen at her desk and the words: “Town of Root clerk is a bigot!!!! Refused to do our marriage license. She said make an appointment to have her deputy do it... do your job”
A message left for the supervisor of the Mohawk River town of 1,700 wasn’t returned. Calls to Subik’s private practice went unanswered.
Gay marriage has been legal in New York since 2011.
Cuomo called the license denial “an unconscionable act of discrimination” and offered to officiate at their wedding.
“Personally I cannot believe that this could happen anywhere in this country, let alone in the State of New York,” Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday announcing the investigation.