Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, a Democrat, supports same-sex marriage and says that a review of state law shows same-sex marriage is not banned by state law. And Ellins, who is a lawyer, says that to deny same-sex couples marriage certificates would violate the New Mexico Constitution.
Last week, the state Supreme Court said they would not immediately hear the case. Instead, the court said it would get an “expedited review” in district court and then, assuredly, work its way up to the state Supreme Court.
Ellins did not think this was fast enough, according to the Las Cruces Sun-News:
“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.”
In 2004, the Sandoval County Clerk began issuing marriage certificates to a 64 same-sex couples. Then-Attorney General Patricia Madrid said the marriage licenses were invalid and a court order stopped the county clerk from issuing licenses.
The then-clerk, Victoria Dunlap, was censured by her county party and lost her next primary election.
In February, Stateline wrote a story about how same-sex marriage was legal for eight hours.
“We couldn’t be happier for the couples in Doña Ana County – and those across the state who will soon, no doubt, make their way there – who have waited far too long for public sentiment and political courage to evolve far enough to publicly acknowledge their relationships as being just as equal as that of their neighbors,” says Patrick Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico. The group supports and adocates legalization of same-sex marriage in New Mexico.