We’re told our wedding day will be the happiest day of our lives: a celebration of love and family and union.
But when Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich got married last year in their home in West Virginia, their day was overwhelmingly filled with tears – the sad kind – and bigotry.
Writing in a blog post for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the couple said their wedding day was “anything but a happy occasion”. It was 2016, and after heading down to their local County courthouse 14 months earlier to receive a marriage license only to be rejected, they tried their luck again. The couple had been together since high school.
“When we asked [the deputy county clerk] for a marriage license, she began shouting at us that we are ‘an abomination’. She yelled that our desire to marry was wrong and that she believed that God would “deal” with us in time. We asked her to stop, and she told us that she has a religious right to talk this way to us,” the couple wrote.
Despite same-sex marriage being legalised in the US by the Supreme Court the year before, it was a challenge to get the clerk to process their marriage application. She did, they wrote, “but not before we were left shaking and in tears.”
As a result of their experience, both Brookover and Abramovich filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia to stop religion-based discrimination against LGBTQ people
"Instead of the happiest day of our lives, we will forever remember our wedding day as one filled with fear, tears and humiliation. This should never have happened to us," they added.
When approached by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the clerk at the centre of the controversy denied she yelled or was rude to the couple.
“I just told them my opinion,” Debbie Allen told the paper. “I just felt led to do that. I believe God was standing with me and that’s just my religious belief.
“We did not attack them,” Allen said. “We did not yell at them. We were not aggressive with them. I felt I talked nicely to them.”
Allen wouldn’t confirm to the paper how she might treat any same-sex couples that arrive at the clerk’s office in the future.
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