New Mexico’s third most populous county, which includes the capital, Santa Fe, on Friday became the second in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a local judge’s order.
Advocates have taken several different paths on the way to expanding marriage rights across the U.S., be it through the state legislature or through the ballot box. Something a little different has happened in New Mexico.
New Mexico state laws do not explicitly allow or forbid same-sex marriages, though they’ve previously been interpreted as restricting the practice.
Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics and her partner, Linda Siegle, were the first couple in line to obtain a marriage license in Santa Fe County on Friday, the Associated Press reported, and it was a local judge who paved the way.
Second in line were Alex Hanna and Yon Hudson, the two men who had filed suit for the right to marry in Santa Fe. It was their lawsuit that led District Judge Sarah Singleton on Thursday to order the Santa Fe County Clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses.
Santa Fe County’s move to issue same-sex marriage licenses follows the one made by the Dona Ana County Clerk on Wednesday, when the AP reported that about 90 such couples had gotten licenses, prompting the threat of a lawsuit by conservative state lawmakers.
In a Friday statement, Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar called herself a “fervent supporter of same-sex marriage in New Mexico” and welcomed the order to issue same-sex licenses.
“I have been frustrated recently wanting to issue licenses but being confronted with long-standing statutes that do not permit it,” Salazar said in the statement. “Now that Judge Singleton has ordered me to issue a license to [lawsuit plaintiffs 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.”
Singleton’s office has clarified that the order was an “alternative writ of mandamus” to compel the county clerk to do her duties, not a decision in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit. Still, the lawyer for the men, Hanna and Hudson, praised the decision as “monumental.”
“The dominoes are falling," John Day told the Albuquerque Journal.
And by the end of the day, the county commissioner Stefanics and Siegle were married.