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Town Attorney Calls For Action After Clerk Refuses To Issue Marriage License to Same-Sex Couple

Robert Couse-Baker/flickr
Robert Couse-Baker/flickr

ITHACA, NY (WSKG) -- The attorney for the Town of Root says the town board should formally review recent actions by the town clerk. Robert Subik's comments come after the clerk refused to issue a marriage license to a gay couple.

Root is in Montgomery County, east of Schenectady.

According to an article in the Schenectady Daily Gazette, Laurel “Sherrie” Eriksen told the couple she doesn’t issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. She told them the deputy clerk would issue the license, but they would need to make an appointment and come back at another time.

"I have recommended to the town board that they convene a disciplinary proceeding with our town clerk to ascertain all the facts surrounding this matter and to determine what sanctions, if any, might be appropriate, given whatever action she took," said Town Attorney Subik.

It’s not yet known if the town board will follow Subik’s recommendation for a disciplinary hearing.

The couple went to another town to get their license.

A Facebook post by one of the men seeking the license, Dylan Toften, urged residents to speak out against the town clerk's action at the most recent town board meeting. At that meeting, the Daily Gazette reports, at least one other same-sex couple said they have received the same treatment by the clerk except she did not tell them why the deputy clerk had to issue their license.

At that same meeting, multiple media outlets reported they were barred from recording. If true, that's a violation of the state's open meetings law.

The most recent incident is also under state investigation by the Office of Human Rights. Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York state since 2011.