Clerk: Not in Roosevelt County

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Roosevelt County will remain one place where same-sex marriage licenses will not be issued despite a growing trend among the state’s 33 country clerks to do so.

Roosevelt County Clerk Donna Carpenter said Tuesday same-sex marriage will be a no-go because the law has not changed in her jurisdiction, even though an Albuquerque judge declared Monday that gay marriage was legal.

“It needs to go through District Court and proceed through the appellate process,” said Carpenter before she would issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Dozens of gay couples gathered Tuesday in Albuquerque as the clerk in New Mexico’s most populous county began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver began recognizing same-sex unions after State District Judge Alan Malott on Monday declared gay marriage legal, saying New Mexico’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

She joins clerks in the state’s other two population centers in recognizing same-sex unions. Also, Tuesday, at least two other New Mexico counties said they had decided to issue the licenses.

But Carpenter said the example of the marriage application she was given to by the state denotes a space for a male and a female.

“I do not plan to issue (marriage licenses to same-sex couples) because the law has not changed,” Carpenter said.

She said she received a call from someone asking her about issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples, but no one has come to her office in-person with that request.

She added the person who called her said the county was liable to be sued if it didn’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“It feels like a threat to me,” Carpenter said.

Typically she or her staff will ask couples for $25 in order to issue a marriage license and ask the bride and groom to come in together and at the same time with photo identification. If people are under the age of 18, more is required, she said.

Gay couples can now get married in about a dozen states after a series of court fights, ballot measures and legislative decisions provided new momentum to the movement in recent years. New Mexico’s law has long been unclear, but the floodgates were opened last week when the Dona Ana County clerk began issuing marriage licenses and a judge in Santa Fe ordered the county clerk there to do so. And Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and Democratic Attorney General Gary King indicated they planned to do nothing to try to halt the practice.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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