Share “More couples getting NM same-sex marriage...”

More couples getting NM same-sex marriage licenses

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm •  Published: August 22, 2013
Advertisement

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Gay and lesbian couples flocked to southern New Mexico for a second day Thursday to take advantage of a surprise decision to issue same-sex marriage licenses. And most were tying the knot on the spot, making sure they got their long-awaited marriage certificates before any courts or state officials could interfere.

"We wanted a piece of paper that said, 'Yes, the 20 years have not been in vain,'" said Thom Hinks of Albuquerque.

Hinks said he and his partner, Richard Sunman, spent much of their three-hour drive discussing whether to get married immediately in Las Cruces on Thursday or use the license to have a better-planned ceremony somewhere else in the state.

They said they decided to do it right away, remembering that licenses issued by the Sandoval County clerk in 2004 were later invalidated.

"All it would take is for a judge to issue an edict and strike it down," said Hinks.

A legal challenge is expected. Republican Sen. William Sharer of Farmington said a lawsuit will be filed, potentially by the end of the week, seeking a court order to stop the clerk.

"It has to do with a county clerk cannot make law. That is the Legislature's job," said Sharer, who sponsored a constitutional amendment in 2011 to define marriage as between a man and woman.

He said more than two dozen GOP lawmakers have agreed to join the lawsuit. It likely will be filed with the state Supreme Court, but Sharer said lawyers were trying to decide the best legal strategy.

Neither Republican Gov. Susana Martinez nor Democratic Attorney General Gary King, who plans to run for her seat next year, indicated they planned to do anything to try to halt the practice as cases testing the legality of same-sex marriage work their way through the state Supreme Court.

The gay marriage issues pose political risks for candidates in New Mexico, which leans Democratic in statewide voting but has many moderate to conservative Democrats in rural areas.

"Issues like immigration, abortion and gay marriage, those are issues that sometimes statewide candidates want to keep away from. Just the fact that both Gary King and the governor haven't exactly come out gangbusters on this issue demonstrates that they recognize it's a double-edge sword that plays both ways," said Brian Sanderoff, an Albuquerque pollster.

Martinez has said she personally opposes same-sex marriage but believes that voters should decide whether to legalize gay marriage through a constitutional amendment. King's office has said that state law prohibits same-sex marriage but those restrictions are unconstitutional.

Continue reading this story on the...