A same-sex couple seeking a marriage license in West Virginia were yelled at by a county clerk who called them “an abomination” and told them that God would judge them for their same-sex relationship.
Samantha Brookover and her partner, Amanda Abramovich, were left crying inside Glenville’s Gilmer County Courthouse last week, after they say deputy clerk Debbie Allen humiliated them on what was meant to be a celebratory occasion.
“It just takes one person to remind you how closed-minded our world is,” Brookover said.
The West Virginia Gazette reports:
They disagree on how loud Allen was and whether the word “abomination” was used, although Moore said she couldn’t hear everything.
“I was working on what I was supposed to be doing and, honestly, I didn’t care to make eye contact with them,” Moore said.
The clerks don’t dispute that Allen told the couple that what they were doing was wrong and that they would be judged, but they also stressed that they did not view the statement as an “attack.”
“We did not attack them,” Allen said. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.”
Brookover and Abramovich, though, say Allen huffed, took their driver’s licenses, made copies, slammed down the copies and then, for two to three minutes, yelled that what they were doing was wrong in her eyes and in God’s eyes and that no one in Gilmer County would ever marry them.
The couple had brought family members. They had the camera ready. It was supposed to be a happy day. Instead, in Brookover’s words, they were “flabbergasted and hurt and angry like you wouldn’t believe.”
Allen said she briefly and calmly told the couple what they were doing was wrong and that God would judge them, and then continued assisting them as she would other couples.
“I just told them my opinion,” she said. “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that’s just my religious belief.”
Abramovich and Brookover already had held a commitment ceremony, but they wanted to get health insurance together and had to be married to do that, according to the West Virginia Gazette.
It should also be noted that West Virginia’s legislature is poised to pass West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (House Bill 4012), a bill which would allow clerks to argue that they shouldn’t be forced to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Many have argued that HB 4012 could allow people to argue in court that civil rights laws don’t apply to them because of their religious beliefs.
Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (304) 462-7641. Their fax number is (304) 462-8855. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST.