One County Clerk is explicitly saying she will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, at least not until a judge tells her to. The Daily Times reports:
San Juan County has never issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Holmes said she has been advised by the county’s legal department not to issue them. “I’m waiting for someone to sue me, and that’s certainly something they can do,” she said. “I feel like I need to follow the law as I’ve been told how to do it.” Holmes said her staff has indicated that at least one same-sex couple “mentioned” suing the county on Monday because the clerk’s office didn’t give the couple a marriage license.
The Washington Post looks at the situation in the other counties:
But whether the rulings means same-sex marriage is legal throughout New Mexico is unclear. Attorney General Gary King (D) has said he will not appeal the rulings, and both Oliver and Salazar have said their offices won’t appeal. Clerks in the 28 other counties can choose to follow existing case law and issue their own same-sex marriage licenses, or they could wait to issue licenses until they are compelled by a court order to do so, according to Cathryn Oakley, an attorney for the Human Rights Campaign, a pro-gay rights group in Washington.
Edge Boston reports that the marriages, for now, may be legally valid:
In the meantime, recently married couples aren’t caught in legal limbo, according to Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, a professor of family law at the University of New Mexico. She said Wednesday the marriages are legally sound, even if the state Supreme Court were to override recent district judge’s rulings that ordered clerks to issue licenses. “In New Mexico, the legal policy is marriages are presumed valid until a court declares them invalid (on an individual basis),” said Sedillo Lopez.
And New Mexico’s Atty. Gen. Gary King extends the same line of reasoning to marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Sandoval County in 2004. LGBTQ Nation reports:
Attorney General Gary King says marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in 2004 in New Mexico’s Sandoval County remain valid. King said Wednesday that licenses issued by a county clerk are “presumptively valid” unless voided by a court. King delivered the non-binding advice in a letter to the current Sandoval County clerk, who found that some of the 2004 licenses recorded in the clerk’s office were labeled as void or invalid.
In Dona Ana County, the county to start this all, County commissioners voted 4-1 to support the County Clerk and marriage licenses for same-sex couples. KRWG reports:
Both those in favor and those opposed had to come to terms with whether this was legal or not. That’s something the county commission would decide. On the agenda — item number 17 – a resolution supporting marriage equality and county clerk Lynn Ellins’ decision to issue licenses to same-sex couples. “The happiness that I and my dedicated staff…has seen has been overwhelming,” said Ellins… The commission approved the resolution 4 – 1. Ellins is allowed to continue issuing the licenses for now.
Not everyone is thrilled with the sudden rush to the altar. The Hill reports:
Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said the decision would cause confusion and ultimately frustration, implying that the ruling would not hold up for long. “The reckless actions of this judge acting on personal opinion and ignoring legislative procedure threatens serious confusion, frustration, and pain for those who are being led to believe that the law has changed,” Pearce said in a statement to The Hill. District Judge Alan Malott’s ruling earlier this week cleared the way for county clerks in the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Activist judges blah blah blah – we’ve heard this all before.
What do you think will happen next? What do you think should happen next?