In February 2016, Samantha Brookover and her fiancée Amanda Abramovich went to get a marriage license from the Gilmer County Courthouse in West Virginia. While waiting for the license, Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen told them their relationship is “an abomination,” that God would judge them and that their marriage shouldn’t be legal. So the couple filed a federal lawsuit against the county, recently settling in the couple’s favor.
The couple received their marriage license on that day, but Brookover said she and her soon-to-be wife were “flabbergasted and hurt and angry like you wouldn’t believe.” They later called Allen’s supervisor, Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher, to speak about the incident, and Butcher said her religious beliefs were similar to Allen’s.
When asked about her actions, Allen said, “We did not attack them. We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them. I just told them my opinion.”
She continued, “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me, and that’s just my religious belief.”
The same-sex couple filed a federal lawsuit, and the county settled
Brookover later pursued a lawsuit against Gilmer County and was represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the LGBTQ organization Fairness West Virginia. The lawsuit named Allen, Butcher and Gilmer County as defendants.
The county decided to settle out of court. The settlement includes an official apology to the same-sex couple, a public statement on the homophobic behavior of the County Clerk’s office and additional steps to ensure country employees never discriminate against same-sex couples again. The county will also pay unspecified damages to the couple.
In a joint statement, Abramovich and Brookover wrote, “Consenting adults should never be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed when marrying the person they love. It will be a comfort to know that this behavior will no longer be allowed in the Gilmer County Courthouse.”
Featured image by DNY59 via iStock