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Seventh New Mexico county to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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Pennsylvania state sealGrant County will become the seventh New Mexico county to approve same-sex couples’ marriage license applications in response to a court order, the AP reported yesterday:

Grant County Clerk Robert Zamarripa said his office will comply with a judge’s ruling issued Tuesday and will begin providing the licenses next week.

“We’ll let the Legislature and courts decide after this what needs to be done,” Zamarripa said in a telephone interview.

His comments came shortly after District Judge J.C. Robinson issued an order requiring the clerk to issue marriage licenses “on a nondiscriminatory basis” to same-sex couples.

Meanwhile, Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover, who received a similar court order instructing her either to begin issuing licenses or appear before a judge to explain why she shouldn’t be compelled to do so, has chosen the second route.  According to KOAT-Albuquerque, Stover will go before a judge in Los Alamos today to “state [her] concern about the outdated and deficient” marriage licenses, according to a statement released yesterday.

“I respect and value the rights of each person to be treated as equally and fairly as our Constitution states,” Stover said in her statement. “Clearly, the marriage license in state statute has not been updated since 1961. It does not work for same-sex couples, and that is a matter for the Legislature to fix, not a clerk and not a district judge.”

Stover wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to rule on the mater in a decision binding upon all 33 of the state’s county clerks, and has joined a unanimous request filed by the clerks asking the high court to do so.

Several similar county lawsuits are pending in New Mexico, and seven counties are currently providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The validity of those licenses will likely remain a point of contention until a final ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Across the country, a state court in Pennsylvania will hear arguments today in a similar case pertaining to a county official, D. Bruce Hanes, who began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier this summer.  The Pennsylvania case differs from the New Mexico actions because Pennsylvania has a statutory ban on marriage equality, whereas New Mexico neither explicitly allows same-sex couples to marry nor specifically bars them from doing so.

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