BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) - The Bernalillo County clerk has been ordered to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Bernalillo County District Court Judge Alan Malott issued the order just before 4 p.m. Monday during a hearing involving several same-sex couples in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.
One of the couples, Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, asked the court to legally recognize their marriage ensuring marital benefits.
Roper is dying from brain cancer and has been given 18 months to live.
The couple was married Friday when the Santa Fe County clerk started issuing same-sex marriage licenses following an order from another judge, but there were still legal questions about the legality of gay marriage in New Mexico.
Malott ruled it is unconstitutional to deny any of these couples the rights to marry.
Bernalillo County clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver had said if this ruling came Monday, she would be ready.
She had 1,000 gender-neutral marriage licenses already printed. She says she will start issuing the licenses at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Couples in the case were ecstatic at the ruling and there was a lot of agreement between the plaintiffs and defendants.
Still, some plaintiffs were stunned by the news.
“It's still sinking in. There are some parts I'm still going to have to read,” said Therese Councilor, who petitioned for same-sex marriage. “This judge was amazing. The opposing council was amazing. It was just, everything went so well. It went better than well.”
At this point, Doña Ana County has issued 164 same-sex marriage licenses and Santa Fe County has issued 151.
Both sides of the debate are calling for a statewide opinion.
Opponents want the issue to be decided by the legislature.
"We have upheld the one-man, one-woman marriage since the beginning of the state," said Chris Donnelly with the Traditional Values Advocacy Committee. "If it's something people are going to want to change, it needs to go through the legislature. That's the proper channel in our system to change law."
State Representative Brian Egolf, an attorney who represented a same-sex couple in Santa Fe, has petitioned the Supreme Court to step in and consolidate all the lawsuits. He says that would remove the need for the appeals process and would result in a statewide opinion.
"Otherwise, we have the risk of different decisions for different counties," he said. "That's not good for the people of the state and that's not good for people who want to get married. It's not fair to have different rules county by county."
Twenty-nine New Mexico legislators say they plan to ask the state Supreme Court to stop all county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Last week, Gov. Susana Martinez said she has made it clear that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
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