ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - County clerks said for now they will not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite Santa Fe city officials’ claim that the New Mexico constitution does not forbid gay marriage.
Less than 24 hours after the controversial claim by Santa Fe’s mayor, city councilor and city attorney county clerks said they have received several phone calls and even visits by same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she has her hands tied.
“We have had individuals come in asking to apply for a marriage license for a same-sex marriage,” Toulouse Oliver said. “Well today, I have to tell them no.”
Toulouse Oliver said despite Santa Fe officials saying same-sex marriage is legal in the state same-sex couples will not be given marriage licenses in Bernalillo County anytime soon.
The same can be said for other counties in the metro. Clerks from Santa Fe County, Valencia County and Torrance County all said they don't know for sure if they have the authority to do issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
This despite what Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora said yesterday.
"The statutes define it as gender-neutral between two parties,” Zamora said.
This is the portion of the law that's in question defining marriage as a civil contract between parties and not between a man and a woman.
Some clerks agree the law is too ambiguous but the application, formatted by the state, is not.
“Its states that a male applicant and a female applicant must supply the information,” Toulouse Oliver said.
So now, clerks are once again asking for clarification. Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins asked
State Representative Bill McCamley to request an immediate opinion from the Attorney General's office to clarify the issue.
Still, Ellins told said the issue may need a ruling from the state supreme court or a decision by the state legislature for county clerk's to feel confident in the law.
Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said clarification and uniformity is needed across the state.
“I don't want to play politics and issue marriage licenses for a few hours and unfairly raise the hopes of same-sex couples,” Salazar said.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Gary King said it could be days or even months before an opinion on the legality of same sex marriage is reached.
In 2004, then Attorney General Patricia Madrid issued an opinion that New Mexico law "contemplates that marriage will be between a man and woman."
She said same sex marriage licenses issued by the Sandoval County clerk were invalid and got a court order to stop her from issuing more.
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