Wednesday, August 21, 2013

King Won't Move Against Dona Ana County Clerk

EI just got off the phone with Attorney General Gary King, who said that that even though he's cautioned county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a court rules on the issue, he will not intervene to try to stop the Dona Ana County clerk, who on Wednesday began issuing licenses to gay couples.

King noted that he has filed briefs in a lawsuit in which he expressed the belief that the state's prohibition against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It would be hard to argue the other way in an action against Dona Ana Country Clerk Lynn Ellins, he said.

Who might have standing in court to file an action if the Attorney General can't?

King said legislators or Dona Ana officials — the county attorney or county manager — might have such standing he said.

The Associated Press reported that same-sex couples began arriving at the clerk’s office in Las Cruces soon after learning of the announcement by Ellins.

The wire service quoted Char Ullman, 51, saying, “I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying,‘you want to get married?’I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse."

King said it's possible that other county clerks around the state might follow suit. (Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar told the AP Wednesday the she would wait until the issue is settled in court.) There could be a situation where same-sex couples in counties that don't allow same-sex marriage would travel to counties that do to get married.

"It leaves the state in an uncertain position," King said. "I think there's still some risk that there will be some people who think they are married when they aren't."

More in tomorrow's New Mexican

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