Lesbian Couple Called "Abomination" Win Compensation

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A Lesbian couple called an "abomination" after seeking a marriage license at a county clerk's office in West Virginia has received an official apology and $10,000 in damages.

Amanda Abramovich and Samantha Brookover went to the Gilmer County Clerk's Office in 2016 to obtain the license, seven months after the Supreme Court ruled that same sex couples had a right to marry, regardless of where they live, the Independent reports.

Deputy Clerk Debbie Allen reportedly threw the couple's paperwork down on the desk, called them an "abomination" and said God would deal with them, court documents state. A second employee joined in, arguing Allen had the religious right to tell the couple what she thought.

Allen acknowledged she had told the couple her opinion.

"I felt I talked nicely to them," she said.

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Abramovich and Brookover, who have been together for seven years, wanted to celebrate obtaining the license. Family members attended to take pictures. But the couple was shocked by Allen's behavior. Brookover cried, while Abramovich remained silent.

"I just told them my opinion," Allen added. "I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that's just my religious belief."

However, the Gilmer County Clerk's Office later acknowledged in a statement that Allen had not acted appropriately.

"That was wrong," the news release said of the treatment meted out to Abramovich and Brookover. "It is the policy of Gilmer County and the Gilmer County Clerk's Office that all people seeking services and doing business with the County will be treated courteously and with respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity."

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Abramovich and Brookover filed a lawsuit in April. Judge Irene Keeley dismissed the case with prejudice on Aug. 30 after both parties agreed to a settlement, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The agreement also includes a provision that the county clerk's office must post a sign in its window stating that it does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The sign must also include a phone number for Fairness West Virginia, a LGBTQ advocacy group.

"The County has also agreed to require all officials and employees of the County Commission and County Clerk's Office to take part in a training program provided by Fairness West Virginia to help ensure that County policy is followed and the mistreatment that Ms. Brookover and Ms. Abramovich received does not recur," the office noted in a statement.

Brookover said the settlement was an important victory.

"We had a chance to stand up and speak for someone who didn't have a voice," she said.

She noted that the clerk's office initially argued its staff had a right to say what they had said.

"Over the year and a half we've been doing this, their attitude has changed," Brookover added.

Sources: The Independent, Charleston Gazette-Mail / Featured Image: Theodoranian/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Alan Light/Flickr, Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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