A county clerk in New Mexico decided to uphold the state’s constitution guaranteeing “equal rights” by taking it upon himself to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Lynn Ellins, the clerk of Dona Ana County, told local media on Wednesday, "any further denial of marriage licenses to these couples violates the United States and New Mexico Constitution and the New Mexico Human Rights Act."
Newlyweds Andrea Hernandez and Maribel Hernandez
Having examined state laws and finding no statutes that “expressly prohibit Dona Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples”, Ellins decided to start issuing the licenses, approving 35 in a single day.
Legal challenges to the non-issuing of same-sex marriage licenses are currently working their way through the courts, but Ellins, having run out of patience with the legal wrangling over the definition of marriage, decided to start issuing the documentation, leading to a rush to the courthouse for many gay couples.
Reported by the Bradenton Herald, Char Ullman, 51, said “I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, 'you want to get married?'. I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse."
On Wednesday evening, the New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King indicated that there were no plans to stop the clerk from issuing the licenses. Reported by the New York Times, Ellins said: “If the court tells me to stop, I’ll stop… but until then we’re open for business.”