LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) - Just like nine years ago, a county clerk has decided there's nothing in New Mexico law banning gay marriage so he started issuing marriage licenses first thing Wednesday morning.
The Dona Ana County clerk's doors opened at 8 a.m. Since then, a steady stream of same-sex couples have been coming through his doors to get marriage licenses.
One couple even drove in from Albuquerque.
They were married in front of the government center saying they didn't want to wait too long in case the Attorney General stepped in.
This is the first time a county clerk has issued marriage licenses to same sex couples in nearly a decade.
In 2004, the Sandoval County clerk issued more than 60 licenses to same sex couples before the then-Attorney General declared the licenses invalid and ordered the clerk to not issue any more licenses to same sex couples. He said the state's marriage application itself has a box for a man and another for a woman which means same-sex marriage is not allowed under state law.
That's a ruling Attorney General Gary King agreed with in June.
Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins says he's considered issuing licenses to same sex couples for quite some time.
Ellins says that after carefully reading state laws, he believes the state's marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not prohibit the county from issuing licenses to same sex couples.
He says denying marriage licenses to same sex couples violates their constitutional rights.
“I took an oath to support the New Mexico constitution. I'm supporting it now,” Ellins said. “I've decided it's time we move forward and hopefully the courts will catch up one of these days.”
The county clerk's doors close at 5 p.m.
The clerk’s office says nearly 30 same-sex marriages licenses have been issued so far, and 20 of those couples have already been married.
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