Times Union: Cuomo calls for investigation into same-sex marriage license denial

Published on Wednesday, August 1, 2018, Times Union

By Rachel Silberstein

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has directed New York's Division of Human Rights to look into the recent decision by a town clerk in Montgomery County not to issue a marriage license for a same-sex couple.

Laurel "Sherrie" Eriksen, the town clerk in Root, told the men that she could not issue them the license due to her religious beliefs and recommended they make an appointment with the deputy town clerk, who did not have religious objections, the town's attorney told the Daily Gazette of Schenectady.

The issue came to light after one of the men, Dylan Toften, an employee at the state Office of General Services, wrote a Facebook post on Monday accusing the clerk of bigotry and calling on the governor to take action. Toften and his husband-to-be, Thomas Hurd, are planning to be married on Aug. 18.

In a statement Wednesday, the governor called the denial "an unconscionable act of discrimination." The governor invited Toften and his fiancé to Albany, and also offered to officiate the wedding.

"Personally I cannot believe that this could happen anywhere in this country, let alone in the state of New York," Cuomo said.

Sen. George Amedore, whose district includes the town, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

His Democratic challenger, Pat Strong, criticized Eriksen, saying, "Marriage equality is the law of the land, period."

Town officials were not immediately available for comment.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York since 2011. That year, a similar controversy was sparked in Cayuga County, when Ledyard town Clerk Rose Marie Belforti refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples.