The story is the creation of fake news website NBC.com.co. This site is not affiliated with the NBC News organization.
Rumors have spread across social media and legitimate news sites that a pastor from the State of Vermont in the US has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after refusing to marry a gay couple.
A Google search of the headline returned more than 16 mil hits at the time of writing. The rumors originate from an article on NBC.com.co (no affiliation to the news organization NBC) that reads in part;
> Proctor, VT — A pastor at the Christian Proctor Church in Vermont, has been sentenced to one year in federal prison after refusing to marry gay couples. This comes shortly after the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision ruling that states must allow gay-marriage.
> The Christian Pastor, 56-year-old Paul Horner, had his lawyer Tom Downey speak to reporters on his behalf.
This story is absolutely NOT true. The story is the creation of fake news website NBC.com.co. This site is not affiliated with the NBC News organization.
A quick search of the State of Vermont Secretary of State's web site, business registration database shows no such church called 'Christian Proctor Church'. A search of the State of Vermont Bar Association registry of lawyers shows no lawyer named Tom Downey registered to practice law in the state of Vermont.
Controversy has certainly plagued the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages in the country, with numerous stories about officials refusing to issue marriage permits receiving mainstream media coverage. The fact that such a story has received media attention around the world is just a failure of news outlets to do basic fact-checking on a story. The name used in the article, Paul Horner, is a popular fake name used around the Internet for factitious stories.
It is also true that lawsuits have been filed against such rebelling officials (such as an ACLU suit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis) but there have been no cases of anyone being arrested or convicted surrounding this controversial issue.
NBC.com.co is part of a growing number of websites ending in 'co' that attempt to disguise themselves as reputable brands. The list of fake websites doing this includes NYTimes.com.co,washingtonpost.com.co and USAToday.com.co. These are fake news websites and nothing on them should be taken seriously.