3rd New Mexico county to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

WiG

A third county in New Mexico was expected to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples when the office opened at 8 a.m. on Aug. 27.

Same-sex couples will be able to get licenses from the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office.

Later in the day, Equality New Mexico and ProgressNow New Mexico will celebrate the event at Civic Plaza, where wedding officiates and civil justices will perform ceremonies.

The development follows a declaratory judgment from 2nd District Court Judge Alan Malott, who wrote that state law “does not preclude nor prohibit issuance of a Marriage License to otherwise qualified couples on the basis of sexual orientation or the gender of its members … to the extent the [New Mexico Statutes] may be read to prohibit issuance of a Marriage License to otherwise qualified same sex couples, those prohibitions are unconstitutional and unenforceable under (the) Constitution of New Mexico.”

The New Mexico Constitution says, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws.  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.”

Bernalillo County is the state’s most populous, home to Albuquerque. 

Malott’s decision is the second in a week from a judge in New Mexico to order a clerk to issue licenses to gay couples. The other was in Santa Fe. Clerks in Santa Fe and Doña Ana counties also have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Also, on Aug. 27, the Doña Ana County Commission is expected to vote on a resolution supporting the county clerk’s issuing of licenses to gay couples. Equality New Mexico, in a news release, said opposition groups were expected to attend and denounce the action.

Peter Simonson, ACLU-NM executive director, said, “Our state is now on the brink of joining the growing list of states who live and honor the values of family, liberty and love. Every family in this state is made richer by this step toward justice for all.”

Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights executive director, added, “The freedom to marry is about love, commitment, family and security. These are universal values and they are center stage today.”