County in New Mexico Begins Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples
The county of Dona Ana, New Mexico has begun to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the state Supreme Court referred a related case to lower courts.
Dona Ana Country Clerk Lynn Ellins announced on Wednesday that the County Clerk's office would being to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. "After careful review of New Mexico's laws it is clear that the state's marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Dona Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples," Ellis wrote in a statement. "Any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. Dona Ana County is upholding New Mexico law by issuing these marriage licenses, and I see no reason to make committed couples in Dona Ana County wait another minute to marry." The County Clerk's office issued 42 marriage licenses to same-sex couples by the end of the day.
Currently, there are two court cases in New Mexico challenging the denial of marriage certificates to same-sex couples. However, the New Mexico Supreme Court has refused to hear these cases before they go before a lower court. The ACLU of New Mexico had petitioned to expedite one case.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he would not try to stop the county from issuing licenses.
Media Resources: Albuquerque Journal 8/22/2013; Associated Press 8/22/2013; Dona Ana County Clerk Statement 8/21/2013