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New Mexico’s Bernalillo County Clerk prepares gender neutral marriage licenses pending district court hearing

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

New Mexico Second Judicial District Court. Attribution: seconddistrictcourt.nmcourts.gov/
New Mexico Second Judicial District Court. Attribution: seconddistrictcourt.nmcourts.gov/

The county clerk in New Mexico’s Bernalillo County, Maggie Toulouse Oliver, is prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as early as this afternoon, after a scheduled hearing in district court in Albuquerque. Bernalillo County is New Mexico’s most populated county. The district court motion is related to the consolidation of marriage equality challenges in the state (earlier a request was made to the state supreme court), but the clerk says she wants to be prepared in case she is ordered to issue the licenses:

The motion before [Judge] Malott asks that a Santa Fe couple be allowed to join five other couples in a previously filed lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s opposition to granting same-sex marriage licenses.

“We know there’s a lot of folks paying attention to this issue and a lot of folks eagerly anticipating such a ruling (in support of same-sex marriage), and so we want to be ready go in as soon as possible,” Oliver said.

“There’s nothing to indicate that I’ll wake up and there will be a favorable ruling, but given that all the plaintiffs and their attorneys will be in the room, I suppose it’s possible that something might happen, and so that is what I am preparing for,” she said.

In case of a ruling supporting same-sex marriage, Oliver said, then “I would anticipate there being a large number of individuals that will be wanting to take advantage, and I’m just making sure my staff is preparing to handle that.”

Bernalillo County would be just the latest in a string of New Mexico counties beginning issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Dona Ana County and Santa Fe County began the process last week. As EqualityOnTrial has written previously, New Mexico lacks a law or constitutional amendment explicitly banning or affirming same-sex marriage. While the state attorney general has opined that current state statutes should be read to ban same-sex marriage, his opinion is non-binding. He has also suggested, even so, that the state constitution’s equal protection clause requires marriage equality.

11 Comments

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