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."