LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) - Despite a court battle, Los Alamos County is the seventh county in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Los Alamos County clerk Sharon Stover went to court Wednesday to explain why she does not agree with a court order to issue the licenses, but a judge ruled against her.
Stover said the marriage licenses are state law and do not work for same-sex couples. Judge Sheri Raphaelson disagreed, saying the law only requires a clerk to issue a license to "each couple desiring to marry in New Mexico" and does not specify gender.
The Los Alamos courtroom was full Wednesday with many there in support of Janet Newton and Maria Thibodeau. When Raphaelson gave her ruling, the room erupted in applause.
Stover denied the couple of three years a marriage license last week.
On Wednesday, county attorney Rebecca Ehler helped explain that decision and asked the judge to hold on her ruling until the Supreme Court takes up the issue.
"We think the citizens of the state deserve a comprehensive approach to this issue and would ask the court to stay this matter pending a definitive answer from a higher appellate court in the state," Ehler said.
She also said the legislature requires those seeking a marriage license to certify that they're either a male applicant or a female applicant.
The couple's attorney, Brian Egolf, argued that it's the actual statute that matters, not the application form, and the statute is not gender-specific.
"These sample forms do not create substantive law," he said. "They're merely there as a guide and it goes on to specify the reason that is there is to facilitate record keeping."
He also said making his clients wait on the "speculation that the Supreme Court may act is not only unsupported by law, it's just not fair, your honor."
Raphaelson agreed and ordered the clerk to issue the licenses. Stover did right after the hearing.
Newton said she grew up in Los Alamos and it was important to her to get her marriage license there.
"That's got a lot of power for anyone connected to community to recognize that your community recognizes it's important to see you as equal," she said.
The clerk says any same-sex couple in Los Alamos can apply for a marriage license now, but she would like the application form changed.
"We've been caught in the middle of this issue to be honest," she said. "And we really need the form to be it's an antiquated form. It needs to be fixed."
Stover said she would have to consult with the county attorney before deciding whether or not to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, the effort to stop gay marriage in New Mexico is growing.
A group of republican lawmakers has now filed suit in Valencia and San Miguel counties to try to stop the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses.
They already filed a lawsuit in Doña Ana County, where same-sex marriage licenses were first issued in the state.
Each of those county clerks decided on their own to start issuing licenses and were not ordered to do so by a judge.
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