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New York Gov. Cuomo orders investigation into denial of marriage license to same-sex couple

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ordering an investigation after a same-sex couple says they were denied a marriage license by a town clerk in upstate New York. The governor even offered to officiate the couple's wedding.

Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd sought the license in Root, New York, a small town about 50 miles from the state's capital, Albany. Toften shared a post on Facebook on July 30, saying Town Clerk Laurel Eriksen "refused to do our marriage license" and suggested they make an appointment with her deputy instead. In a later comment on his post, Toften said Eriksen refused to do it on religious grounds because "she doesn't believe in it." 

His post has since garnered hundreds of comments and shares.

Root Town Attorney Robert Subik told Schenectady's Daily Gazette that he is aware of the incident. He said the men were denied an application for two reasons: one, because they failed to make an appointment with the town clerk. The second reason, Subik told the newspaper, was due to the clerk's religious beliefs.

"She has a religious objection and has referred the matter to her deputy clerk, who has no such objection and will issue the license when they make an appointment," Subik told the the Daily Gazette. 

A representative for the town clerk's office said "no one is making any comment at this time" when contacted by CBS News on Friday morning, and abruptly hung up without identifying herself. Subik and the town's supervisor, Gary Kamp, could not be reached by CBS News for comment. 

In his Facebook post discussion, Toften said he and his partner ended up traveling to the nearby town of Cobleskill to get their marriage license. 

Eriksen "took an oath to uphold to the NYS constitution not her beliefs," Toften wrote. "She can be let go for this at the state level and I plan on pursuing it to that." Toften did not respond to CBS News' request for an interview.

"The denial of a marriage license to a same sex couple yesterday in Montgomery County is an unconscionable act of discrimination that goes against our values as New Yorkers," Cuomo tweeted on Wednesday. "I am directing an investigation into this incident to ensure that it never happens again."

"I don't care if the clerk is opposed to marriage equality that's her right but she can't impose her will onto others in violation of the law," Cuomo added in a second tweet. He invited the couple to Albany and even offered to officiate their wedding.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York state since the state's Marriage Equality Act took effect in July 2011.

This isn't the first time a New York State clerk objected to issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple. In September 2011, a town clerk in the state's Finger Lakes region refused to sign a license for a lesbian couple because of her religious beliefs, the New York Times reported at the time. Marriage equality became the law nationwide following a Supreme Court ruling in June 2015.

A few months later, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, made headlines nationwide and spent five days in jail for defying the court's ruling and refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state legislature changed the law so that clerks there are no longer required to sign marriage licenses. Davis is currently running for reelection.