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Largest New Mexico county to issue same-sex marriage licenses

August 26, 2013|By Matt Stevens
  • Todd Crawford, left, and Jimmy Huckaby embrace after receiving their marriage license at the Santa Fe County clerk's office in New Mexico.
Todd Crawford, left, and Jimmy Huckaby embrace after receiving their marriage… (Eddie Moore / Associated…)

A judge has ordered the clerk of New Mexico's most populous county to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, declaring that discriminating against them violates the state constitution.

After state District Judge Alan M. Malott handed down a writ of mandamus on Monday, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver told the Los Angeles Times that her office would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Tuesday.

The order, which affects major cities like Albuquerque, comes after both Santa Fe County and Dona Ana County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week. Last Friday, a separate judge ordered Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to start issuing licenses.

Toulouse Oliver said her office had printed 1,000 licenses in anticipation of a similar ruling.

New Mexico state laws do not explicitly allow or forbid same-sex marriage, although they had been interpreted as restricting the practice.

The suit against the Bernalillo County clerk involved a lesbian couple who wished to marry quickly because one partner faced what Toulouse Oliver called "a critical medical illness." Malott then chose to issue a "blanket ruling," Toulouse Oliver said.

"There is a substantial public interest in vindicating the rights of all citizens under the law and preventing the ongoing violation of our constitutional rights," the judge wrote.

Toulouse Oliver estimated that a few hundred licenses had been issued across the state.

"I’m not going to appeal it, so I’m not sure who would," she said. "We’ll have to see what happens."

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Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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