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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Mexico:

Marriage equality comes to 3 more counties.
County clerks ask Supreme Court to clarify the law.
Attorney General says 'Sandoval 64' are still married.
Case pending in District Court, Sandoval County.

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Discussion of his item is continued from the previous essay

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Webmaster's comment:

Being an avid watcher of the Pawn Stars TV program it occurred to me that purchasing a marriage license for a same sex couple could be a wise financial investment if done during the few days when the county clerks are manually modifying the forms to accommodate couples of the same gender. Their value might accelerate in future years because of their rarity. Such altered forms were only issued for a few days by a few counties in New Mexico. That opportunity has now passed.

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2013-AUG-27: San Miguel County, Valencia County, and Taos County are counties 4, 5 and 6 to attain marriage equality:

As of AUG-26, there were three counties in New Mexico where same-sex couples could obtain marriage certificates. However these were three of the largest counties in the state, so that fully half of New Mexicans could obtain licenses where they live.

  • San Miguel County: Melanie Rivera, the county clerk of stated that she will supply marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting AUG-27. However, the forms will be regular marriage licenses that have been modified by hand to be gender-neutral. Later in that week she expects to have properly printed gender-neutral licenses. 1

View of the signature portion of the New Mexico gender-neutral marriage license.
"Bride" and "Groom" are replaced by "Spouse."

Closeup of marriage license

  • Valencia County: Peggy Carabajal, the County Clerk of expected to have hand-modified licenses that she planned to issue starting AUG-27, with properly printed copies later in that week. 2

Towleroad reported:

"Taos County will become the sixth county in New Mexico to issue same-gender marriage licenses, after 8th Judicial District Judge Jeff McElroy issued a Writ of Mandamus compelling the County Clerk‚€™s Office to issue marriage licenses to [qualified] same-gender couples who apply.

In a telephone interview, County Clerk Anna Martinez told that her office will begin issuing licenses at 8 am Wednesday, August 28. ..."

According to the Census Bureau, this means that 56.2% of New Mexicans now live in marriage equality counties." 3

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2013-AUG-28: County clerks seek court opinion:

All 33 county clerks in New Mexico engaged in a conference call. They voted unanimously to have their attorney seek a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court on the legality of same-sex marriage. All of them -- totaling 21 Democrats and 12 Republicans -- have offered to have their names listed in court briefs.

Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said:

"We want some direction. We think it‚€™s important."

State Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto (D), who is also the executive director of the New Mexico County Clerks Affiliate said:

"Instead of getting picked off one by one, the county clerks decided they need an answer. County clerks need to know what is their responsibility.‚€

Most, perhaps all of the counties that are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples have been visited by same-sex couples seeking licenses. The clerks expect that lawsuits will be filed against those who refused the requests.

The clerk's goal is to obtain a ruling quickly from the state Supreme Court that is valid throughout New Mexico. 4

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Attorney General says that marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples in 2004 are still valid:

Attorney General Gary King (D) issued an email to Eileen Garbanni, the present clerk of Sandoval County. In it, he upheld the validity of marriage licenses that were issued back in in 2004 by Virginia Dunlap (R) who was clerk of the county at the time. The couples who received the licenses are known as the "Sandoval 64." He said that the marriage licenses are "presumptively valid" unless declared otherwise by a court. King's office had learned that the word "void" or "illegal" had been written across archived copies of the licenses. He wrote that:

"It has come to the attention of this office that you have discovered the word ‚€˜void‚€™ or ‚€˜illegal‚€™ affixed to marriage licenses issued to same sex couples by the former Sandoval County clerk in 2004. Under New Mexico law ‚€¶ it is clear only courts of New Mexico are invested with the authority to void marriage licenses." 5

Mary Houdek and Norma Rey V√°zquez de Houdek were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license in 2004. Mary said:

"It‚€™s definitely very good news."

She said that they had always considered their marriage legal.

It is probable that at least one of the spouses in the original 64 couples assumed that their 2004 New Mexico license was no longer valid and went on to marry someone else in another state where SSMs were available. That would legally make them in a bigamous marriage.

During AUG-29, a same-sex couple -- Carolyn VanHousen and Gail Gering -- applied for a marriage license in Sandoval County and were refused.

The American Civil Liberties Union for New Mexico has said that they are planning to file a law suite in the near future. 5

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Week of 2013-AUG-25: Case pending in Sandoval County:

A lesbian couple from Placitas was refused a marriage license at the Sandoval County clerk's office. They fiiled a case with the District Court, asking the judge to order Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples. As of SEP-03, no ruling had been handed down.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Patrick Davis, "San Miguel County Becomes 4th To Issue Same-Sex Licenses" Progress Now - New Mexico, 2013-AUG-27, at:
  2. "3 more NM counties to issue gay marriage licenses. Taos County to begin issuing gay marriage licenses," KOAT 7, Albuquerque, 2013-AUG-27, at:
  3. Andy Towle, "Taos county, New Mexico will become 6th to issue marriage licenses to gay couples," Towleroad, 2013-AUG-28, at:
  4. Dan Boyd & Rosalie Rayburn, "County clerks want same-sex marriage ruling," Albuquerque Journal, 2013-AUG-29, at:
  5. Becca Morn, "New Mexico gay marriage legal since‚€¶2004?," America Blog, 2013-AUG-29, at:

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Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > SSM sub menu > New Mexico > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-AUG-27
Latest update: 2013-AUG-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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