NM County Clerk Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A New Mexico county clerk announced Wednesday that his office will begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses in a surprise move that comes as several legal challenges are working their way through the courts on whether gay couples can marry in the state.
In a statement, Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said that he carefully read the state laws and concluded 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."
The ruling immediately drew same-sex couples to the clerk’s office in the border town of Las Cruces, N.M., where the couples were receiving marriage licenses.
Ellins said he had been considering issuing licenses since last June. That’s when New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued a position paper stating state laws don’t allow same-sex marriage but those laws could face court challenges.
"Any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act," Ellins said. "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."
King also asked county clerks when announcing his opinion to hold off on issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
When reached for comment Wednesday, the attorney general’s office said it had just heard about the clerk’s decision.