Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Mexico County Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

While New Mexico's gay marriage laws remain up in the air, one county official is not waiting.

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins issued a statement Wednesday affirming that his office is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. CNN noted earlier this month that New Mexico is the only state without laws on the books for either gay marriage or civil unions.

Ellins' decision comes days after New Mexico's state Supreme Court declined to decide on the gay marriage issue, sending requests for legality back to the lower courts. He cited concerns of a delay that "could be many months or years" before being resolved.

"I am an attorney, and I have read the AG’s opinion, and I find it to be sound," Ellins said in a statement. "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 Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. Doña Ana County is upholding New Mexico law by issuing these marriage licenses, and I see no reason to make committed couples in Doña Ana County wait another minute to marry.”

According to Freedom To Marry, New Mexico's state's laws have been stagnant since 2004, when a clerk made a similar move as Ellins to issue licenses. But the state's attorney general at the time stopped that process, and movement has stalled since.

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