New Mexico Hub

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.

Continue reading "New Mexico Judges Refuse To Officiate All Weddings" »

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita Share Their Love Story: VIDEO


Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita share their love story and why they worked for marriage equality in Jesse's home state of New Mexico and will continue to work for it nationwide in a sweet new video for the ACLU.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita Share Their Love Story: VIDEO" »

NM County Clerk Who Spearheaded Marriage Equality Charge Donates Leftover Funds to Protect It

In late August, New Mexico's Doña Ana County made history when it began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. County Clerk Lynn Ellins was leading the charge, which engaged other counties until the the New Mexico Supreme Court finally decided the matter.

EllinsIn September, Ellins began raising private donations to help the county cover the cost of its legal fees and the fundraising effort was so successful that there was more cash to spare.

Ellins is now donating that money to a New Mexico group established to protect equal marriage rights, the Las Cruces Sun reports:

Ellins had raised private donations -- via a website and at his county office -- to pay for his defense in a civil lawsuit brought by opponents of his controversial August decision to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

After paying his legal bill, Ellins estimated a few thousand dollars are leftover. And he said he's giving that money to a campaign called New Mexico Unites for Marriage Equality.

"It's a nonprofit organization that was established the last year to basically protect the same-gender marriage rights," Ellins said.

Ellins' legal expenses tied to the state district court lawsuit totaled nearly $31,759, according to a Doña Ana County news release.

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NM Gov. Susana Martinez Won't Legislate Against Gay Marriage: 'It's the Law of the Land'

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez says she won't support or seek an amendment to ban gay marriage in the state, saying the issue is settled, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports:

MartinezMartinez said several times last summer — when several county clerks across the state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — that she believed state voters should decide the issue by way of a ballot question on whether to amend the state constitution.

“I think what I said before was that yes, the people should have decided on it, but the Supreme Court has decided,” the governor said Monday when asked by a reporter about the issue. “And it’s now the law of the land.”

Asked whether that meant she wouldn’t push for the Legislature to pass a measure like Sen. Bill Sharer’s Senate Joint Resolution 6, Martinez responded, “It’s the law of the land. The Supreme Court has spoken.”

Coalition For Navajo Equality Hopes To Overturn Tribal Anti-Gay Marriage Legislation

The Navajo Nation may soon see a review of its tribal ban on gay marriage, spurred on by the Coalition for Navajo Equality. The original legislation, which banned same-sex marriages in 2005, likely passed in part because of the climate of the federal government at the time, and limited state support for same-sex couples; now, many Navajo people would like to see that law overturned, following in the footsteps of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma. 

NavajonationAl Jazeera reports:

Alray Nelson, founder of the Coalition for Navajo Equality, says he wants the Navajo Nation (flag at right) to respect same-sex relationships, just like two of the states that surround its territory — New Mexico, where gay marriage was legalized this month, and Utah, where it was recently ruled legal but faces a mounting appeal.

“There’s no organized faction against this, like in the fight (for) Proposition 8 in California,” said Nelson, 27, whose organization is seeking to make tribal legislators review a 2005 tribal ban on gay marriage early next year.

Opposition to the review may not be organized, but it exists.

Deswood Tome, a special adviser to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, told Al Jazeera that although Navajo respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Navajo, marriage is traditionally between a man and woman.

Tome referred to a traditional phrase in the Navajo language that “means that ‘a man and woman come together.’ That's our core belief as Navajo people ... I’ve never heard of a man and man.”

OFFICIAL.PHOTOGRAPH.President.Shelly-250x300President Shelly (right), it turns out, both agreed and disagreed with Tome's interpretation. While the tradition has been marriage between one man and one woman, Shelly stated that his personal belief is one of equal opportunity for marriage, gay or straight. Other tribal nations agree and fear that state and federal influences (such as George W. Bush's 2004 defense of DOMA) have caused dissent within their tribes.

In October two gay men became the third same-sex couple to be officially married by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Their territory is surrounded by Oklahoma, where gay marriage remains illegal and faces much opposition. 

After their marriage, a high-level official called a tribal meeting to discuss measures to block such unions, said Cheyenne and Arapaho Lt. Gov. Amber Bighorse-Suitor. 

“I was surprised when this broke that there was any opposition in the tribe. The attitude in Oklahoma seems to have infiltrated some of our tribal attitudes,” she said. 

The same-sex marriage debate seems to represent just one facet of an ever-shifting dynamic between states, tribal nations, and the federal government. Influences both positive (Utah and New Mexico's marriage decisions) and negative (Oklahoma's largely anti-gay stance) have traversed national borders.  

Hopefully the Navajo Nation will review the 2005 ban and decide, like the other tribal governments, to allow same-sex marriage. Good luck to the Coalition for Navajo Equality!


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