NM County Told to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - An Albuquerque judge has ordered the clerk of New Mexico's most populous county to join two other counties in issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples.

State District Judge Alan Malott issued the ruling Monday in the case of a lesbian couple who sought an emergency ruling because one of them is dying.

In an unexpected turn, the couple was able to get married Friday after a judge in a separate case ordered the Santa Fe clerk to issue same-sex licenses.

Also last week, the clerk of Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico decided on his own to recognize same-sex marriage.

Malott says New Mexico's constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The clerk for New Mexico's most populous county has a supply of new forms ready in case a court orders her to issue licenses for same-sex marriages.

An Albuquerque judge has scheduled a hearing for Monday afternoon on a request by a Pojoaque couple who wed last week to have their marriage recognized by the state.

The hearing comes just days after the Santa Fe County clerk started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples because of a court order, and the clerk of Dona Ana County on the opposite side of the state decided on his own to recognize same-sex marriage.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver says she's had 1,000 licenses printed in case there is a ruling from state District Judge Alan Malott in favor of same-sex marriage.

"There's nothing to indicate that I'll wake up and there will be a favorable ruling," Oliver told the Albuquerque Journal. "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."

The hearing originally was scheduled on an emergency motion to force the county to issue a marriage license to Jen Roper, who is dying of cancer, and Angelique Neuman because of Roper's cancer.

The couple last week joined a lawsuit brought the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two other lesbian couples. But Roper and Neuman got married Friday in the lobby of the cancer center at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after a judge in a different lawsuit ordered the Santa Fe County clerk to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

By Friday evening, 49 same-sex couples had received marriage licenses there, with many of them getting married on the spot.

And Monday morning couples were lined up in Santa Fe waiting for the clerk's office to open. Before noon, another 64 same-sex couples had received licenses there.

Also last week, Dona Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins began on his own issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He started issuing the licenses Wednesday. Ellins said 137 couples from around the state and from neighboring Texas got licenses last week, and 12 more had received them by midmorning Monday.

A group of Republican legislators is planning to file a lawsuit to stop Ellins.

Ellins, however, says, "I think the train has pulled out of the station.

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