Dona Ana County Seeks To Implement Marriage Equality

Mar 20, 2013

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins has asked Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, to seek an immediate opinion from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General about whether same-sex marriage licenses can be issued by county clerks’ offices statewide.

Ellins’ request follows the March 19 release of a legal memorandum crafted by Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora that asserts marriage equality is already legal in the State of New Mexico and citing specific language in both the New Mexico Constitution and the state’s marriage statutes to support his position.

“Under a 2004 AG’s opinion, county clerks statewide are prohibited from issuing such licenses. If and when a new opinion is issued that allows the issuance of such licenses, my office stands ready to begin doing so,” Ellins said in his letter to McCamley requesting the opinion.

“Rep. McCamley assured me that he would expedite our request,” Ellins added, noting that public opinion on the matter of marriage equality has shifted dramatically since 2004, with the latest national polls showing 58 percent of Americans are in favor of full marriage equality.

“Many prominent Republicans have joined the majority of Democrats and the President of the United States in endorsing marriage equality,” Ellins wrote. “Doña Ana County stands ready to stand on the right side of history, given a green light by the Office of the Attorney General.”

Ellins said same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal are recognized under New Mexico law when those couples move to New Mexico. He said the next logical step is for county clerks in New Mexico to be able to begin issuing the licenses for legal marriages within New Mexico.

“I am hopeful, as is my staff, that ours can be the office that shifts the tide in the State of New Mexico,” Ellins said. “With Rep. McCamley’s assistance, we will soon have in hand an opinion that will clarify the matter statewide.”