County by county if it must be then it shall be. New Mexico District Judge Sarah Singleton has issued an order to Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar that the county must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The suit marks the first time that a judge has ruled on the issue, according to state Representative Brian Egolf, the lawyer for the couple who sued.
ProgressNowNM stated “By now its clear. Marriage equality has come to New Mexico. The City of Santa Fe outlined a case for marriage equality under current law, the Dona Ana County clerk is already issuing licenses and the attorney general says our laws demand the issuance of licenses to every gay applicant in every New Mexico county.”
Singleton told Salazar that she must either grant the licenses or appear in court by 26 September to explain why not. Salazar has not commented, but may appeal the ruling.
Egolf stated “This will be the first time a court anywhere in New Mexico … has ordered same-sex couples to be married.” Egolf, a Democrat, represents a district in Santa Fe. He is among the various activists trying to get a case to the New Mexico Supreme Court in order to get marriage equality fully legalized in the state.
New Mexico does not have an explicit prohibition on same-sex couples getting married. In his non-binding opinion, Attorney General Gary King contends that the current marriage law violates the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law by prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Singleton’s order states that “reading a sex or sexual orientation requirement into the laws of New Mexico violates the state constitution, which mandates that ‘equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.’”
Nearly a hundred same-sex couples have already been issued marriage licenses in Dona Ana County, New Mexico where the county clerk decided not to wait for a ruling on the law. A group of Republican legislators are setting up to file a lawsuit to stop those marriages, but may just end up hastening the decision to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
According to Dona Ana Chief Deputy Clerk Mario Jimenez, couples from Texas are crossing the border to get married.