COLUMN: How New Mexico Legalized Marriage Equality– For 8 Hours

Stateline
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February 12, 2013
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The clerk was nervous as he filled out the first same-sex marriage license ever issued in New Mexico. “He knew it was going to be controversial,” recalls Mary Houdek, one-half of the couple being issued a license. “That gentleman was shaking.” It was just after 8 a.m., February 20, 2004. For the next eight hours, same-sex marriage was legal in New Mexico. The state put an end to it that afternoon. But since then, the whole issue has been in a sort of legal limbo, leaving citizens and especially the 64 couples who married that day living in an uncertain situation. Today, New Mexico is the only state in the country that has no law of any kind dealing with same-sex marriage. The controversy started when Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap announced she’d begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples, arguing, correctly, that nothing in state law defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. “She just sprung it up,” Norma Vazquez de Houdek, Mary’s spouse, says. “I thought it was a big hoax.”