Las Cruces, New Mexico – Same-sex couples in Dona Ana County New Mexico began receiving marriage licenses this morning from the county clerk who announced he was issuing them based on a widely discussed legal opinion, endorsed by the attorney general last month, that the state’s equal protection laws required the state to provide the same benefits of marriage extended to other couples.
County Clerk Lynn Ellins (male) began issuing the licenses at 8:00 am this morning from his office in the Southern New Mexico county neighboring El Paso.
“We couldn’t be happier for the couples in Dona Ana County – and those across the state who will soon, no doubt, make their way there – who have waited far too long for public sentiment and political courage to evolve far enough to publicly acknowledge their relationships as being just as equal as that of their neighbors,” says Patrick Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive advocacy group working to advance marriage equality in the state.
In April, the City of Santa Fe passed a resolution outlining the case for same-sex marriages to be recognized under current state law. The resolution acknowledged that New Mexico law recognizes marriage as a contract between two gender-neutral parties and that the state’s Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sex. The state’s marriage license form provides for a bride and groom, though statue permits clerks to use a form that substantially complies with that format. Ellins issued licenses in the same format but without gender-specific references.