Judge Orders More New Mexico Counties To Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples

NM marriage licensePreviously, same-sex couples in Doña Ana and Santa Fe counties were granted the right to apply for marriage licenses. Now, thanks to a New Mexico judge, another county gets to join in, Bernalillo County. Furthermore, the same judge, Alan Malott, struck down a challenge to same-sex marriage licenses granted in Santa Fe county, thus opening up the possibility for other counties to follow suit. 

Clerks in Santa Fe and Doña Ana counties were persistent that New Mexico law was actually worded in such a way that did not bar same-sex couples from getting married. Subsequent legal challenges argue that it does. Thankfully, Judge Malott sided with same-sex couples, saying that "gay and lesbian citizens of New Mexico have endured a long history of discrimination. Denial of the right to marry continues this unfortunate and intolerable pattern." Better yet, the judge's decision was set to take forth immediately upon its release. According to Action 7 News of Albuquerque, same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses as of 8 am tomorrow morning. Computers at the county clerk's office will need to be reset overnight. Judge Malott gave the reasoning for his immediate ruling in the opinion:

"There is no benefit to the parties or the public interest in having this matter progress through a lengthy path of litigation while basic constitutional rights are being compromised or denied on a daily basis."

NM same sex couples celebrateNaturally, today's ruling is drawing some harsh criticism from conservative politicians in the state. Republican state Sen. Bill Sharer said in a statement that:

"It is up the New Mexico State Legislature, with the consent of the Governor of New Mexico, to make laws and for county clerks and district court judges to abide by them. They do not make the laws. It is inexplicable how a district court just today discovered a new definition of marriage in our laws, when our marriage law has not been changed in over a century."

Someone had better tell Senator Sharer that he needs to get his facts stright, at least with that last claim, considering that marriage laws have changed, more than once, during the last century. Action 7 is currently keeping a live blog of these events, and will continue giving updates on the events of this story as they continue to come in. 


  1. says

    One step closer, New Mexico. They’re on quite a roll. Excellent news!

    Sen. Rip Van Winkle Sharer must have missed that gay couples have been marrying in the U.S. for almost 10 years now. And that NM marriage law doesn’t expressly exclude same-sex couples from marriage. This ruling is, if anything, overdue.

  2. Francis #1 says

    Marriage equality is basically legal in New Mexico. Most couples who want to marry are going to be marrying in these three counties, especially the two that issued court orders. A lot of Texan and Colorado couples are marrying in New Mexico.

    Things have EXPLODED in a great way in New Mexico in about a week. Whereas we see in other states stalling and negative results (Illinois and New Jersey for starters), just last week, Lynn Ellins in Dona Ana started issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. Now three counties, the three biggest counties in New Mexico, are issuing marriage licences. Marriage equality is essentially legal now in Bernalillo and Sante Fe Counties.

    Republicans in the state are on their heels. They’ve basically been overwhelmed by these court rulings after they were preparing to file a lawsuit to stop the marriage licences in Dona Ana. New Mexico is going to legalize marriage equality soon throughout the state. Doesn’t seem like any answer otherwise is possible. Awesome!

  3. Fox says

    Doesn’t sound like the three county thing really matters much. The way the New Mexico code reads, a couple can get a license in any county, AND they can get married anywhere within the state with that license. They just have to return the signed license to the same county they got it in for it to be recorded properly.

  4. Mary says

    Don’t most NM citizens support SSM? If so, then why not get the laws changed through a referendum or the legislature? I don’t see the point of taking unnecessary risk. Things are going well nationally with the marriage cause. How does a clerk get to decide law? We have procedures for how laws change. Clerks don’t get to make their own laws. Just like the clerks in upstate New York didn’t have the right to refuse to sign marriage licenses for gay couples once SSM became legal in NY.

    I realize people want to celebrate a victory, but all victories are not the same. Judges can also legislate in ways that favor the right-wing. Many people on the left don’t realize that courts aren’t the safety valve they are assuming them to be. It seems to me that this overreliance on courts is just a form of impatience. There will actually be a bigger payoff long-term by winning people over rather than by using the courts.

  5. says

    Mary, once again you demonstrate you don’t understand how civil rights progress comes about and you don’t understand the role of the courts in that progress. The clerks were taking a risk; one that’s now backed up by a ruling on the constitutionality of prohibiting gay couples from marrying in a state where no such prohibitions are in the statutes.

    Federal marriage equality will be won in the Court, just as the right to interracial marriage was. Someone your age should get it. There will also be legislative progress, but not in states with anti-gay Republican governors (VT being the exception in 2009).

    Of course rightwing judges (many of the judges ruling in favor of marriage equality have been conservative, actually) can rule against us, but the constitution really isn’t on their side, nor is the historical trajectory.

    And people are being won over daily in myriad other ways–we’re successfully firing on more than one cylinder. Again, your persistent “cautions” are misplaced. The dominoes will keep falling, and the anti-gay minority will have to get used to it.

  6. JJ says

    Mary, the NM law is already gender neutral, so what would you have them change it to? Suppose lawmakers “change” it to say exactly what it says now. Do you think courts should interpret the law as barring SSM now and then later interpret the exact same text to allow SSM?

    And which clerks exactly are “making” law? If NM law has no provision allowing clerks to withhold marriage licenses from same-sex couples, then the clerks who are turning same-sex couples away are the ones making their own law, right?

    Oh, and it’s not your place to dictate what risks are unnecessary. Your rights aren’t at stake.

  7. Fox says

    And the gender neutral law of New Mexico should become the standard. (And notice how there’s no qualification of “bride” and “groom” on the marriage certificate?)

  8. Kevin says

    All due respect Mary,we don’t put up civil rights for a vote.
    More to the point,polls can say a lot of things,Prop 8 when it started out was very unpopular and thought to have no chance of passing.
    We all know how that turned out.

  9. dam846201 says

    To all those who continue to use “SSM” or “same-sex marriage” to define what we are fighting for are doing a disservice to all of us. Using “Marriage Equality” is non-threatening & a better explanation of our views. I don’t want to marry my partner because he’s a man, rather because I love him & want to legalize our union. “Same-sex marriage” & “SSM” seem to ask for special dispensation. “Marriage Equality” asks for the same privileges enjoyed by heterosexual couples!

  10. JJ says

    @DAM846201, I completely agree that folks should avoid the term “same-sex marriage” and use “marriage equality” whenever possible. However, those terms aren’t entirely interchangeable. If you see me use SSM, it’s because that’s the term I needed to get my point across.

  11. Tina Long says

    NM marriage licenses are not required and your allowed to do forgery.
    NM Judges dont like it when they are wrong. So what do they do…change the wording of a law which legistatures are clueless to the Judges INTENT…. to cover up their errors of ruling allowing a fraud.
    Law did read (2012): requires the” Parties” (bride or groom) to file the license within 90 days to avoid fraud.Law now reads (2013): It is the duty of all persons solemnizing the contract of marriage to certify the marriage to the county clerk within 90 from the date of the marriage ceremony. The clerk shall issue a certificate of correction or correct a marriage license or a certificate of marriage to correct an error on the document upon order of the district court.
    NM Judges using there control to pass thr- changes may think they have POWER but under DIVINE LAW they are weak not to face up to when they are wrong. Its extremely clear the change in the law is a JUDGE covering her ASS. The new law gives these judges the power to allow fraud and forgery of a marriage license. 2012 case: Pierson v. Long DM 2012 002781 currently in Appeal 32688 (2013).This Case is based on a fraud marriage by Pierson, no marriage license filed with no intent to be filed, and forgery of a marriage license by Pierson. Judge ignored the law and granted a divorce allowing Pierson who creating a fraud and forgery to have person Long who was party conned her separate & personal property.

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