Sandoval County, New Mexico, is another place where the local government has sanctionined same-sex marriages. The reasoning there seems to be a bit different from that in San Francisco and Chicago, though.
From the Albuquerque Journal:
By Susan Montoya Bryan
The Associated Press
BERNALILLO, N.M. ? Gay and lesbian couples lined up to tie the knot Friday after the Sandoval County clerk agreed to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Roughly 15 couples had been granted licenses by late morning, the Sandoval County clerk’s office said. A sign-up list for applications had grown to 38 couples, with some waiting in line for in the hall outside the clerk’s office inside a courthouse.
Outside court, two reverends conducted impromptu marriage ceremonies.
Meanwhile, two state senators and the county commissioner called for a quick opinion from the attorney general on whether the licenses were legal.
Among the first to get their license were two women who got married in a brief ceremony in front of the courthouse.
“When we heard the news this morning, we knew we couldn’t wait. We had to come down here,” Jenifer Albright said after she and Anne Schultz, 34, both of Albuquerque, exchanged vows in front of the courthouse.
James Walker and Michael Palmer took extended lunch breaks from work for a moment they said they’d waited 26 years for. The men were married in Toronto last year, but that didn’t give them rights in the United States.
Walker said a marriage certificate from Sandoval County “would give us a lot of rights and benefits that have been denied us as a couple, including the rights associated with property ownership and the rights associated with medical decisions.”
“Look at the sincerity here,” pointing to a pair of women holding hands and exchanging vows, said the Rev. Pearl Gabaldon, who was conducting ceremonies.
County Clerk Victoria Dunlap, a Republican, said Thursday that she was unaware of any laws prohibiting licenses from being issued for same-sex couples. She said she sought an opinion from her county attorney after she got a call earlier this week from someone asking about same-sex ceremonies.
“This has nothing to do with politics or morals,” she told the Albuquerque Journal. “If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can’t withhold it . . . This office won’t say no until shown it’s not permissible.”
Edited to add this, from the Denver Post:
Some Gay Couples Marry in New Mexico
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN
Associated Press Writer
BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) — Dozens of gay and lesbian couples arrived in this rural town Friday to get married after a county clerk announced she would grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the offer was soon revoked.
The Sandoval County clerk’s office granted licenses to 26 same-sex couples before New Mexico attorney general Patricia Madrid issued a late afternoon opinion saying the licenses were “invalid under state law.”
The clerk’s office stopped issuing licenses and told newly wed couples their licenses were invalid. A crowd outside the office reacted with boos and shouts as a deputy clerk read the attorney general’s legal advice.
“This is not OK. We deserve rights,” shouted Carolyn Ford, angrily pointing a finger while holding a bouquet of red and white roses.
More than 60 couples had signed up for applications after county Clerk Victoria Dunlap decided to grant the licenses.
Dunlap said she made the decision after County Attorney David Mathews determined New Mexico law is unclear on the issue. He said state law defines marriage as a contract between parties but does not mention gender.
“It’s going to be across the country and so we wanted to be ahead of the curve,” Dunlap said.
Outside the courthouse, two preachers spent the day conducting marriage ceremonies.
“When we heard the news this morning, we knew we couldn’t wait. We had to come down here,” said Jenifer Albright of Albuquerque, who exchanged vows with partner Anne Shultz.
Things sure changed in a hurry there. But I have a feeling this isn’t quite where that story ends.