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West Virginia County Clerks Sued for Allegedly Harassing Same-Sex Couple Wanting a Marriage License

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County Clerk Allegedly Called Their Relationship an ‘Abomination to God’

Amanda Abramovich and Samantha Brookover originally tried to marry in 2014, after their home state of West Virginia legalized same-sex marriage. At the time, the couple, high school sweethearts together now over six years, were denied a license in Gilmer County by a clerk who told them that they each needed an in-county driver’s license in order to get a marriage license.

In February of 2016, seven months after the Obergefell decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the U.S., the couple applied for their marriage license a second time. According to a new lawsuit from Americans United, a religious freedom watchdog group, the couple was harassed over their marriage application.

County Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen allegedly harassed them for several minutes, calling their relationship an “abomination” and citing her religion as a reason for her objection to the couple. Another clerk allegedly joined in, calling the abuse Allen’s “religious right.” Brookover’s mother called the office of County Clerk Jean Butcher to report the incident, but Butcher allegedly stood behind the actions of the deputy clerks.

“Allen launched into a tirade of harassment and disparagement. She slammed her paperwork down on her desk, screaming that the couple was an ‘abomination’ to God and that God would ‘deal’ with them,” court documents claim. “Samantha was brought to tears.”

The clerk also allegedly told the couple that the county had stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Obergefell ruling. Issuing marriage licenses is still listed as a responsibility of the clerk’s office on the county’s website.  

Ambramovich and Brookover were given a marriage license and were married shortly after the incident.

Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United, commented on the case in a press release, saying, “Same-sex couples shouldn’t have to run a gauntlet of harassment, religious condemnation, and discrimination in order to realize their dreams of marriage.”

The lawsuit claims that the clerks violated the mandate set by the Obergefell case. According to the suit, they also violated the Establishment Clause, which prevents anyone acting as an agent of the government from enforcing their religious convictions onto constituents, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. 

Butcher told a reporter from the Charleston Gazzette last year that her views were similar to Allen’s, and that the important thing was that the couple received their marriage license.

A brief call Monday resulted in no statement from Butcher, who was unaware of the lawsuit when contacted.

UPDATE: 4.18.2017 –

“It’s been an overwhelming experience this entire time, but we can survive,” Brookover told NCRM Tuesday. “We just never want anyone else to be dehumanized because of who they love. Love will win.”

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.

Image via Americans United

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CORRUPTION

Trump Pardons Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

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President Donald J. Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn Wednesday. Flynn had previously pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017.

Flynn was originally charged with admitting that he had misled investigators about details of his conversations with the Russian ambassador during Trump’s presidential transition.

Trump’s pardon of Flynn marks a full embrace of the retired general he had ousted from the White House after only 22 days on the job — and a final salvo against the Russia investigation that shadowed the first half of his term in office.

This story is developing.

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CORRUPTION

Ivanka Trump and Her Family Will Have a Rude Awakening When They Leave the White House

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President Donald J. Trump is about to leave the White House in less than eight weeks, which means he’s taking his entire brood with him to new post-White House life.  Among those seeking a new residence and career: his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

“When Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner first took jobs in the White House in 2017, they presumably assumed that eight years later, they’d return to New York and be crowned the king and queen not just of an exclusive social set but the city — nay, the entire globe. Vogue would put them on the cover of the September issue. Billionaires would beg them to sit on the boards of their companies to lend an air of credibility,” reporter Bess Levin wrote for Vanity Fair.

“Instead, they’re being unceremoniously booted out of the place after just four years, with significantly worse reputations than when they started,” Levin added. “To be clear, no one was falling all over themselves to get an audience with the couple before Donald Trump was inaugurated. But they weren’t reviled among the people whose opinions they presumably once and probably do still care about, with just a narrow portion of Manhattan reportedly looking forward to their return and an open invitation from Staten Island to take the ferry out and put down roots.”

Levin added that “a former friend of” Ivanka and Kushner told her Vanity Fair colleague, Emily Jane Fox, “Everyone with self-respect, a career, morals, respect for democracy — or who doesn’t want their friends to shame them both in private and public — will steer clear.”

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BAD PRESIDENT

Trump Cancels Trip to Pennsylvania to attend Fake Election Hearing with Rudy Giuliani

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President Donald Trump’s trip to witness a purported “voter fraud” hearing has been abruptly canceled.

Although the president was scheduled to travel with personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to watch a partisan GOP hearing on supposed voting irregularities, CNN’s Jeremy Diamond is reporting that the trip was called off late Wednesday morning.

Although no reason was given for the cancelation, Diamond notes that it came “after Giuliani was exposed to a second person in the last week who tested positive for coronavirus.”

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