IOWA CITY -- A Florida man said Friday he's angry a rural Iowa court official duped him and his partner into paying for an invalid marriage license, saying the case illustrates the difficulty facing gay couples who cannot get married in their own states.
Joab Penney, 28, of Williston, Fla., said he recently learned the license obtained in February was bogus after he contacted an attorney to get a divorce.
"I was pretty upset," Penney said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. "What she did was wrong."
Penney spoke two days after Grundy County deputy clerk of court Brigitte Van Nice was arrested and charged with two counts of forgery and one count of perjury. Prosecutors said Van Nice told Penney and his partner, Joseph Parker, they could get married in Iowa without coming to the state.
A criminal complaint says Van Nice filed documents falsely claiming she officiated a Valentine's Day ceremony and included the phony signatures of two witnesses.
Prosecutors said Van Nice told the county recorder's staff she met Penney and Parker randomly at a Waterloo truck stop and was asked to officiate their wedding. Penney said Friday he's never set foot in Iowa, which allows individuals from out-of-state to be married as long as they come to the state for a ceremony witnessed by two people.
Penney said he and Parker had been together for a long time and wanted to get married in Iowa, one of six states that allow same-sex marriage, because Florida bars the practice. He said they randomly contacted the Grundy County courthouse after a Google search and ended up talking with Van Nice, who sent an application.
The couple broke up shortly after the marriage for reasons that Penney did not want to discuss.
Florida divorce attorney Beth Gordon said she immediately suspected something was off when Penney brought her the marriage license after inquiring about how to get a divorce.