Democrat New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's investigating a town clerk who wouldn't provide a marriage license to a same-sex couple even though she was following her office's procedures.
Cuomo's actions are in response to a social media post by Dylan Toften, a resident of Root, New York, who took to Facebook Monday to complain about town clerk Laurel "Sherrie" Eriksen who recently refused to issue him and his partner, Thomas Hurd, a marriage license because of her religious beliefs.
"The denial of a marriage license to a same-sex couple yesterday in Montgomery County is an unconscionable act of discrimination that goes against our values as New Yorkers," Cuomo posted to his Twitter account on Wednesday. "I am directing an investigation into this incident to ensure that it never happens again."
The town's lawyer Robert Subik has explained that because of Eriksen's religious beliefs, she has a deputy clerk who normally handles marriage licenses involving same-sex couples. However, that deputy was not in the office when the men went to Eriksen for the marriage license.
"Sherrie 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 also explained that ultimately, Eriksen's decision was also based on her religious objection to same-sex marriage.
"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."
Toften and Hurd ended up going to a clerk in Cobleskill to secure their marriage licenses.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York since 2011 and was made legal nationwide in 2015 by the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
According to The Daily Gazette, state law permits for a deputy clerk to grant the marriage licenses but also reads that "no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same, or a different, sex."