County commission passes same-sex marriage license ban

By Tony Parra

Roosevelt County commissioners passed a resolution on Tuesday prohibiting the issuance of gay-marriage licenses.
County Clerk Joyce Fraze and commissioners said they felt a resolution was needed after Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap recorded 26 licenses for gay and lesbian couples, which Attorney General Patricia Madrid quickly declared invalid, in late February. Fraze said Dunlap felt the state law was unclear on granting same-sex marriage licenses.
Fraze said commissioners originally considered passing an ordinance to disallow the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, Fraze said it would take 30 days to pass an ordinance and the commission would need to advertise the ordinance and hold public hearings.
A resolution, they said, could be passed during the commission meeting and have a similar effect. The difference between a resolution and an ordinance is that an ordinance could result in the arrest of anyone issuing a same-sex marriage license.
Commissioners said during the meeting that the resolution was adequate for now, and work on upcoming elections and budget meetings took precedence over creating an ordinance.
Fraze, who opposes granting gay-marriage licenses, said the state law reads, “a male and female applicant must sign the marriage certificate.”
Portales residents offered mixed reviews on the subject.
“Personally I don’t believe in it (gay marriages), but I don’t think they (Roosevelt County Commissioners) should ban it,” said Pam Campbell, an Eastern New Mexico University sophomore. “If they are going to ban it, they should ban it throughout the United States. They need to be more consistent. It’s not preventing it, because people can just go elsewhere to get married.”
Randy Hill, a Portales resident, is against the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses.
“It (gay lifestyle) shouldn’t happen to begin with,” Hill said. “It wasn’t meant to be to start with. I’m glad (commissioners approved the resolution).”
Fraze, who will retire at the end of the year, will be replaced by Janet Collins. Collins said she is also opposed to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
However, the decision ultimately came down to the Roosevelt County commissioners, who passed the resolution unanimously.
“Personally, politically and spiritually, I don’t believe in it (gay marriages),” said Dennis Lopez, Roosevelt County Commission Chairman. “I feel it should be a union between a man and a woman.”
Curry County commissioners on Tuesday passed a similar resolution. Curry County Clerk Mario Trujillo said they were discussing passing an ordinance, but decided on a resolution for the same reasons as Roosevelt County.
“In talking with (county attorney) Mr. (Stephen) Doerr, we decided to try to pass a resolution first,” Trujillo said. “It would take longer to pass an ordinance, and at this time he recommended a resolution.”
Fraze said that after the New Mexico Association of County Clerks (NMACC) held a meeting in April, 32 of the 33 county clerks opposed the issuance of a license to same-sex couples. Sandoval County was the only one in favor of granting gay-marriage licenses.
Gov. Bill Richardson has said he supports the stance made by the NMACC.