Okay, if we could have chosen any desert wedding destination to legalize same-sex marriage, we'd probably have picked Vegas. But for now, we can celebrate a step in the right direction over in New Mexico.
Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced Wednesday that his office will no longer deny marriage license requests from same-sex couples.
"After careful review of New Mexico's laws," Ellis said in a written statement, "it is clear that the state's marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples... I see no reason to make committed couples in Doña Ana County wait another minute to marry."
Couples are allegedly rushing to the county clerk's office to claim their prize.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has warned local county clerks not to take this kind of step, but has simultaneously encouraged litigators to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The fight for same-sex marriage has indeed ramped up this summer in the state. Earlier this week, a Santa Fe couple filing a lawsuit against the state's same-sex marriage ban asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to consolidate their case with other cases of that nature. Their goal is to clear delays in the state's lower courts so that they may reach higher court more quickly. Only the state's Supreme Court would be able to consider the wider legal question of same-sex marriage, as opposed to issues on a case-by-case basis.
Same-sex marriage is currently legal in thirteen U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia. The movement for marriage equality made huge gains this summer when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Action (DOMA). If Wednesday's decision is supported by changes to the state constitution, Doña Ana will be the first county in New Mexico to allow same-sex couples to marry.