Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced Wednesday that his office is now issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. Immediately, couples began arriving at the county administration building to secure a license. Ellins said that he has been considering issuing licenses since last June, when New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued a position paper stating that New Mexico's ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples is unconstitutional. Since then, the Attorney General – in a legal brief to the New Supreme Court – has refused to defend the ban and has asked the Supreme Court to declare New Mexico's prohibition of same-gender marriage unconstitutional under the state's constitution.
Last week, Ellins said, the New Mexico Supreme Court declined to issue a ruling sought by attorneys for same-gender couples seeking marriage licenses from the county clerks in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. Instead, the Supreme Court sent these matters back to the lower courts for an initial review on the merits.
“That means it could be many months or years before the matter is resolved,” Ellins said. “In the meantime, I am mindful that I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the State of New Mexico as Doña Ana County Clerk. I am an attorney, and I have read the AG’s opinion, and I find it to be sound. 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.”
Ellins said couples requesting marriage license will no longer be turned down, and starting today, licenses will be issued at the Doña Ana County Government Center For information about New Mexico marriage license requirements, call the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office at (575) 647-7421.