|Gilmer County officials must apologize to a same-sex couple, pay them $10,000 and undergo workplace sensitivity training, after a county clerk condemned the couple while they received a marriage license a year and a half ago. |
Erin Beck, Staff Writer GAZETTE MAIL
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against Gilmer County by same-sex couple that received condemnation while obtaining a marriage license in the clerk's office, according to a news release.
On Feb. 3, 2016, Debbie Allen, a deputy clerk in the Gilmer County Clerk's Office, told Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich that what they were doing was wrong and that God would judge them. In a phone interview about a week later, Allen confirmed that she made those remarks, although she disputed allegations that she was loud and used the word "abomination."
Abramovich and Brookover filed the lawsuit, against Allen, Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher, and Gilmer County in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in April. The lawsuit stated that the couple's constitutional rights were violated because they were treated differently from others in the name of religion.
Gilmer County agreed to apologize to the couple, issue a public statement, take steps to ensure that county officials do not discriminate against anyone in the future based on religious beliefs about sexual orientation, and pay damages, according to a news release from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Attorneys from the organization were among the lawyers representing the couple.