The Santa Fe New Mexican reports:
State District Judge Jeff McElroy ruled Tuesday that Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez must issue a gay couple a marriage license or present a legal argument why she should not. The Taos suit was brought by Dale Schuette and Reg Stark, who were turned away Monday when they applied for a marriage license at the clerk’s office. McElroy said Schuette and Stark had legal standing to marry in Taos County but were only denied a license due to their gender. McElroy said New Mexico law did not prohibit the couple from marrying.
This thing is spreading like wildfire. Meanwhile, New Mexican Republicans tried to organize a response.
Pink News reports:
“First we were looking at the lawlessness of Dona Anna County Clerk. But now we are looking at the usurpation of the entire democratic system,” said state Senator Bill Sharer. He continued to say that judges and county clerks had overstepped a mark by beginning to issue licences. “Does the legislature with the consent of the governor make the law or is this now the wild, wild, wild, west where each judge makes his or her own law?” asked Sharer. The Senator has hired an attorney, and he said he is not sure how quickly legal action will move forward.
New Mexico’s Republican Governor Susana Martinez, meanwhile, has abdicated responsibility on the issue, saying it should be decided by a vote of the people. Democrats in the state have vowed to fight Republicans to protect the new marriages.
So what happens next? Jacob Combs at Equality on Trial reports:
New Mexico has 33 counties, so while Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Dona Ana contain some of the state’s largest cities-Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces, respectively-there are still a large number of county clerks which are not issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. That means a county-by-county campaign, which would take time and, frankly, would be a waste of resources for both the state and its private citizens-not to mention the fact that it would deprive the constitutional rights of citizens who might be ill or otherwise unable to wait for a lengthly resolution. The final arbiter on the issue, of course, is most likely to be the New Mexico Supreme Court. But at the risk of stating the obvious, for the high court to review a lower decision, that decision must be appealed. It’s unclear in this situation who might have the proper legal authority to do so.
In the meantime, we’re on pins and needles waiting to see what happens next.