| NEW YORK STATE DIVISION OF |
On the Complaint of
JANE FORWARD AND JOAN FORWARD
RECOMMENDED FINDINGS OF FACT, OPINION AND DECISION,
Case No. 122500
Complainants, a same-sex couple, alleged that they were unlawfully discriminated against when Respondent refused to perform their marriage. Complainants have proven their case and are awarded emotional distress damages. Additionally, a civil fine is assessed against Respondent and made payable to the State of New York.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
On December 24, 2013 Complainants allege that they were walking in a winter wonderland. In the meadow, Complainants built a snowman (Respondent) and agreed to pretend that he was “Parson Brown.” Complainants allege that Respondent asked if Complainants were married. Complainants replied in the negative, then asked Respondent to perform their nuptials under New York State Law. Respondent, by his silence, refused. Complainants allege that Respondent’s refusal violates their civil liberties according to N.Y. Executive Law, art. 15, which defines the protected class of sexual orientation as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or asexuality, whether actual or perceived.” Human Rights Law §296.23. Council for Respondent claims that Respondent is actually a snowman, not a Parson, and thus cannot legally marry any couple, same-sex or opposite sex.
OPINION AND DECISION
Complainants are a same-sex couple, who have a perceived orientation, homosexuality. The Respondent has never before refused to perform nuptials, therefore the refusal in question can reasonably be construed as discrimination. The Respondent’s claim that he is not “Parson Brown” fails to state a genuine issue of material fact because the U.S. Court of Appeals for this circuit has upheld the right of same-sex couples to redefine a snowman as a parson, priest, or rabbi. While a parson has traditionally been defined as a living human being ordained by a religious body to be a member of the clergy, New York State Law does not specifically require a parson to be a human or to be able to speak. The Respondent’s action of refusing to perform Complainants marriage is unlawful discrimination. The affirmative defense that the claims have been or will be mooted by Respondent’s changing his own orientation from solid to liquid is also rejected because such event was an inevitable and foreseeable consequence of world-wide global warming.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, that the Respondent shall cease and desist from all discriminatory practices and shall within sixty (60) days establish an anti-discrimination training program for all similarly situated chilled, frozen or congealed persons in the reasonable vicinity of his meadowland.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Respondent should pay compensatory damages to Complainants in the amount of $6,000 by December 31, 2014. Should Respondent melt before that date, his estate, including, without limitations, all caps, buttons and noses, will remain liable for said damages.
DATED: December 17, 2014
Bronx, New York