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Largest New Mexico county to issue same-sex marriage licenses

MarriageCrime, Law and JusticeSocial IssuesFamilyJustice SystemSame-Sex Marriage

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

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