USA, New Mexico: Another County Moves Toward Marriage Equality As GOP Sues to Stop It

Written by scott on August 31st, 2013

New Mexico MapA seventh county in New Mexico may now have marriage equality thanks to a judge’s ruling.

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

Los Alamos County was on the brink Thursday of becoming the seventh New Mexico county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while county clerks around the state looked to the state Supreme Court for a decisive, statewide ruling on gay marriage’s legality. Same-sex marriage advocates saw another regional victory when a judge in the Santa Fe-based 1st Judicial District ordered Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover to either issue a marriage license to a lesbian couple that had been denied earlier this week or show up in court next week to argue why she should not have to do so. “We consider it a significant victory for marriage equality,” Santa Fe attorney John Day, who represents the Los Alamos couple, said of the ruling.

Meanwhile, ABC News reports on the GOP’s long-threatened lawsuit to block weddings:

A group of Republican legislators has brought the first lawsuit to try to block gay marriage in New Mexico since six counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the past week. The lawsuit targets one southern New Mexico county — Dona Ana — but could provide another route for the dispute to reach New Mexico’s highest court for a final statewide resolution. The New Mexico Association of Counties and county clerks statewide have said they plan a separate appeal to the state Supreme Court to try to get a decision on whether gay marriage is legal in New Mexico.

ABC also reports that more than two hundred same-sex couples have Artie taken advantage of the marriage licenses in Dona Ana County alone.

And the Dallas voice has some background on how we got here so quickly:

The Santa Fe city attorney drafted a memo saying his reading of the state constitution allowed same-sex marriage. Gender is not specified in New Mexico marriage laws. He encouraged the Santa Fe mayor and city council to vote on a resolution supporting same-sex marriage, urging the county clerk to begin issuing licenses.

“That’s the same way I read the Constitution,” Williams said [Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn] Ellins told him at the time… “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Ellins said. He ordered applications and licenses that were gender-neutral, shared his plans with a small number of staff members to avoid a pre-emptive injunction and rolled out marriage equality on Aug. 21.

On Aug. 22, a district judge ordered Santa Fe’s county clerk to begin issuing licenses the next day marking the first time a judge ordered marriage equality in the state. In Albuquerque, the Bernalillo County clerk had 1,000 gender-neutral marriage licenses printed in case a judge in that county extended marriage equality to the most populous part of the state. That happened Monday, Aug. 26, after a same-sex couple filed suit. The couple had married in Santa Fe and one of the spouses is dying of cancer. They filed a suit asking that their marriage be recognized in Bernalillo County on the death certificate. The judge not only ordered the marriage recognized, but declared same-sex marriage legal, and ordered the county clerk to begin issuing licenses.

It’s fascinating the way this whole thing evolved – read the whole thing at the link above.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in New Mexico.


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