A West Virginia County Clerk employee is in hot water after she allegedly told a same-sex couple their marriage is “an abomination” and that God will judge them for it.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter Friday to the Gilmer County Clerk’s office. The group claims even though the office did issue the marriage license, the religious words from Allen violated their constitutional rights.
“It is both cruel and unacceptable for a government employee to berate anyone he or she serves in an official capacity,” Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a statement. “Even though Ms. Allen did not refuse to issue a license in this instance, she still deprived an innocent couple of their rights when she treated them like second-class citizens.”
The letter claims the employee, who allegedly admonished the couple for two to three minutes, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as well as the couple’s Equal Protection and Due Process rights. The letter gave the county clerk’s office 14 days to respond.
“Please bring the County Clerk’s office into compliance with the Constitution by ensuring that County officials do not disparage same-sex couples or direct religious messages to the public,” the letter reads.
Whether the word “abomination” was used and what exactly happened has been disputed but Allen does not deny telling the couple she disapproved.
“We did not attack them,” Allen told The Charleston Gazette-Mail. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.”
The case is similar to that of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who refused to sign off on marriage licenses for same-sex couples last year. After being jailed, the state’s government came to an arrangement where Davis’ signature was not required on the documents.
“As the Kim Davis case reminded us, a government official may not block or burden citizens’ right to marry, no matter what that official’s religious beliefs,” said Americans United Senior Litigation Counsel Gregory M. Lipper. “Like other loving couples, same-sex couples have the right to obtain marriage licenses without receiving a sermon from a renegade deputy clerk.”
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