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New Mexico Judges Refuse To Officiate All Weddings

Back in December, New Mexico became the 17th state to introduce marriage equality. But judges in two of those state's counties (Eddy and Chaves Counties) have decided to stop performing any and all marriages

The Albuquerque Journal reports on the response of one of those judges, Eddy County Magistrate Judge Henry Castaneda who said: “I don’t have a problem with who wants to get married. But we don’t have to compromise our beliefs.”

The Current-Argus reports


Neighboring county judges have also decided to no longer perform marriages. Jeff Ortega, chief deputy clerk for Chaves County, said judges informed the county of their decision months before the supreme court decision. In Lea County, however, two judges in Lovington did notify the county clerk that they were still going to continue to officiate weddings, said Pat Chappelle, Lea County clerk. Chappelle said the county has not received a significant spike in marriage licenses since the ruling, but the process has been a little slower because of a shortage of people who can legally sign off on marriage licenses.

 Judges are not required to officiate weddings but county clerks are required to issue licenses that must be signed by a judge, minister or tribal representative.

Watch a KRQE news segment about the story, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. “I don’t have a problem with who wants to get married. But we don’t have to compromise our beliefs.”

    The cognitive dissonance is deafening.

    Posted by: Hunter | Feb 22, 2014 7:36:51 AM

  2. well, you do actually !
    if you are receiving public money to perform a function then no one cares what your beliefs are; just get on and do what you're paid to do.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2014 7:42:30 AM

  3. To @JackFknTwist: Thank you. I couldn't have said it better.

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 22, 2014 7:45:20 AM

  4. Call Queen Latifah. She'll marry them. Bonus, she's a Gay Icon.

    Posted by: NotSafeForWork | Feb 22, 2014 7:47:06 AM

  5. This is known as the Spitefulness Strategy, the cloaking of anti-gay animus in cherry-picked Christianist garb.

    Posted by: Tom Chicago | Feb 22, 2014 7:59:20 AM

  6. I say apply the same standard as you would to other reasons for objections to certain marriages. For instance interracial marriages, inter-religional marriages, a large age difference between the parties, prior divorce(s), etc.

    Posted by: Gay Guy | Feb 22, 2014 9:24:28 AM

  7. “I don’t have a problem with who wants to get married. But we don’t have to compromise our beliefs.”

    Actually, you do. Your paycheck/salary comes out of the pockets of LGBT citizens therefore you are their employee and your beliefs are irrelevant. You are PUBLIC servant. Not a private one and you are not a priest. That means ALL of the public. Do your job or get a new one or don't tax LGBT citizens. Period. Their are NO legal arguments against this incontestable fact of American law.

    Posted by: Sean | Feb 22, 2014 9:31:19 AM

  8. Do your entire job as a public servant, or submit your resignation.

    It's just that easy.

    Posted by: pete n sfo | Feb 22, 2014 9:35:30 AM

  9. @ PETE N SFo
    @ SEAN

    See my post above.
    In addition don't judges take an oath of office to uphold the law without fear or favour, and with malice or ill will towards none..

    Or is that an old fashioned European concept ?
    If they won't do their jobs, fire them or impeach them.
    Either way get them out........they don't have the entitlements of hereditary princes.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2014 10:25:37 AM

  10. County clerks are required to issue licenses (as they should be), but judges aren't required to perform weddings--it's an optional part of their job duties, one they don't get compensated for. So if they choose not to do any marriages, that's within their rights. All or nothing.

    One has to wonder, however, about the impartiality of a judge who, if he had a choice, would perform marriages for straight couples but not for gay ones.

    Posted by: Ernie | Feb 22, 2014 11:02:19 AM

  11. Video doesn't play (even on their site) :(

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 22, 2014 11:03:45 AM

  12. So don't use a judge, people. I used a friend who could marry people. We took the license to a clerk. She signed it. Our local judge is a bigot, and even if he was willing to marry us, I'd rather not be married than have that jerk be a part of it.

    Anyone can get cheap credentials to marry...if your area is having any problems with this, get the credentials and help each other!

    Posted by: Jude | Feb 22, 2014 11:26:13 AM

  13. I have to wonder what other public servants get to pick and choose what their duties are.

    Frankly I am sick of the arrogance of judges at all levels, particularly the Supreme Court. Does the Supreme Court function in an efficient way which serves the public? I would say no. Look at how long they take to issue an opinion… jeeze you would think it was rocket science. It isn't. Moreover, look at the deliberately cryptic and inconsiderate way they do issue opinions. They know as well as anyone else what the nation wants answered, and half the time they only answer some piddling part of a legal issue and leave the meat (and the plaintiffs) hanging out to dry for yet another round or two at the local level.

    Posted by: enchantra | Feb 22, 2014 11:56:41 AM

  14. I am with Ernie obn this. They don't want to officiate at gay weddings? I wouldn't want them at my wedding any more than I would have the wedding at a fundamentalist church. Still, it does show a certain animus against gay people even in the judiciary. This does bring into question their fitness for office. If they were voted into office, I would hope they could be voted out of office.

    Posted by: jmartindale | Feb 22, 2014 12:01:40 PM

  15. Are these judges marrying people in churches? If not, then what possible beliefs are involved in civil marriage?

    ...maybe bigotry?

    Posted by: TonyJazz | Feb 22, 2014 1:54:26 PM

  16. These priggish government employees who think that they are actually some kind "gatekeepers from God" by refusing to push papers or witness two citizens forming a legally-binding civil contract are a laugh riot.

    Posted by: Lexis | Feb 22, 2014 2:10:45 PM

  17. Judges are supposed to be disinterested, unbiased officers of the law and are to perform their duties impartially, exactly as required by law without any reference to their personal beliefs. That's why they're judges and not politicians. For a judge to state publicly that he puts his personal beliefs above performance of law is to say publicly that he is not qualified to be a judge. The New Mexico judicial standards board should take a good long look at these two judges and make them explain why their personal beliefs trump their obligations to do impartial justice and render impartial service to the community they are sworn to serve.

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 22, 2014 2:26:03 PM

  18. I agree that the judges cannot pick and choose which parts of the law they want to follow. However, many do do marriages, as noted above, as an extra. However, I feel if they don't do for one, they shouldn't do for any, because that does show judicial favoritism and not impartiality. Any judge unwilling to follow the law on every aspect does give, at the very least, a distinct impression of bias and is thus untrustworthy and at the worst an out and out bigot and should be impeached.
    When we married in San Diego, there was an option for having a friend get "a day license" to marry; we didn't need that but it really is a cool way to go if you have someone special in your life that you want to add to your marriage ceremony.

    Posted by: Steven Jaeger | Feb 22, 2014 4:50:22 PM

  19. they said, "we don’t have to compromise our beliefs.” but it is okay for them to break the oaths of office they swore to? probably on their mythological book the Bible? how strange. can they then be impeached or whatever they do in NM?

    Posted by: mike/ | Feb 22, 2014 7:05:49 PM

  20. Miss Judge!

    Posted by: kodiak | Feb 22, 2014 10:37:02 PM

  21. Same sex marriages are welcome in my courtroom in Hagerman. Love is love.

    Posted by: Sandy Pierson | Apr 22, 2014 12:26:19 PM

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