Some New Mexico Counties Issuing Same Sex Marriage Certificates

By: Rachel Pulaski

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins

Both Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County have been ordered by their county judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses even though the state has not legalized same-sex marriage. The New Mexico Supreme Court has declined to rule on lawsuits regarding same-sex marriage, but asked lower courts to handle them first.

USA Today reported:

The hearing comes just days after the Santa Fe County clerk started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples because of a court order, and the clerk of Dona Ana County on the opposite side of the state decided on his own to recognize same-sex marriage.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she’s had 1,000 licenses printed in case there is a ruling from state District Judge Alan Malott in favor of same-sex marriage.

“There’s nothing to indicate that I’ll wake up and there will be a favorable ruling,” Oliver told the Albuquerque Journal. “But given that all the plaintiffs and their attorneys will be in the room, I suppose it’s possible that something might happen, and so that is what I am preparing for.”

The hearing originally was scheduled on an emergency motion to force the county to issue a marriage license to Jen Roper, who is dying of cancer, and Angelique Neuman because of Roper’s cancer.

The couple last week joined a lawsuit brought the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two other lesbian couples. But Roper and Neuman got married Friday in the lobby of the cancer center at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after a judge in a different lawsuit ordered the Santa Fe County clerk to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

A “rogue” county clerk in New Mexico’s Dona Ana County Lynn Ellins has decided to issue his own marriage certificates to same-sex couples even though a county judge has not ordered him to do so and the state has not legalized it.  A group of Republican legislators plan to file suit against Ellins.

Via Business Insider

The grandfatherly-looking Dona Ana County clerk, Lynn Ellins, had given marriage licenses to 57 same-sex couples by Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported.

Ellins’ bold move is a sign that the fight for gay marriage didn’t end when the Supreme Court struck down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in June, UCLA Law professor Adam Winkler told Business Insider.

A court may put a stop to those efforts, Winkler told BI. “New Mexico law does not provide for same-sex marriage, and the clerk is likely to be found to have exceeded the clerk’s authority,” Winkler said.

The state’s governor, Susana Martinez, is opposed to gay marriage, so she may well file a lawsuit to stop Ellins. Her spokesman said voters should get to decide the issue, “not one random clerk,” according to The Times.

Ellins’ efforts may start a conversation that will eventually lead the New Mexico legislature to legalize gay marriage. For his part, Ellins says he’ll keep issuing licenses until a judge tells him to stop.

“If the court tells me to stop, I’ll stop,” Ellins told The New York Times. “But until that happens, we’re open for business.”

As of today, both Valencia and San Miguel counties will begin to issue same-sex marriage licenses as well.

Update: Dona Ana County passed a resolution in support of gay marriage.

 

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