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SANTA FE, N.M. – Marriage equality may have finally come to New Mexico after a state district court judge late Thursday issued the state’s first formal legal opinion clarifying a right to marriage for all couples and ordered the Santa Fe County Clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
At least a dozen recipients of the county’s first licenses held an impromptu mass gay wedding in the chambers of the county commission just minutes after receiving their licenses. The couples were pronounced legally married at 3:51 pm local time.
Two days after Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing licenses to same-sex couples, District Judge Sarah Singleton issued a five-page order of mandamus directing the clerk to issue a marriage license to two men who had previously been denied a license by the clerk who cited uncertainty about the legality of doing so under existing law.
Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar issued a statement saying, “Now that Judge Singleton has ordered me to issue a license to Messrs. Hanna and Hudson on constitutional grounds, I intend to do so and to issue a license to any same-sex couple who desires one and are otherwise qualified. By complying with the judge’s order, we will be issuing licenses legally and will not continue to use limited county resources on further litigation.”
Pictures of Santa Fe’s first license recipients were immediately posted on the Facebook page of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive advocacy group advocating for marriage equality and other progressive causes in the state.
The first couple to receive a license were Liz Stefanics, a Santa Fe county commissioner who recently introduced a resolution urging the court to support marriage equality, and her partner Linda Siegle, a longtime LGBT activist.
“After so many years of seeing these couples have their hopes raised, then dashed it is so rewarding to see progress finally coming,” said Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico. “Elected leaders with political courage stepped forward to do the right thing and we will be forever grateful. And no state could have done marriage equality better. What could be cooler than a mass gay wedding in Santa Fe to celebrate marriage equality?"