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Grant County will be 7th N.M. county to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

Tuesday, September 3, 2013
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SILVER CITY, N.M. – The legal fight over gay marriage in New Mexico broadened Tuesday as a seventh county announced plans to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Grant County Clerk Robert Zamarripa said his office will comply with a judge’s ruling issued Tuesday and will begin providing the licenses next week.

“We’ll let the Legislature and courts decide after this what needs to be done,” Zamarripa said in a telephone interview.

His comments came shortly after District Judge J.C. Robinson issued an order requiring the clerk to issue marriage licenses “on a nondiscriminatory basis” to same-sex couples.

In a separate case, Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover is fighting a similar court order and said she won’t immediately change her policy of denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Stover is to appear in state district court Wednesday. She’s asking Judge Sheri Raphaelson to put a gay marriage lawsuit on hold until the issue is resolved by the state Supreme Court in another case.

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins led the way on the gay marriage issue Aug. 21 by deciding independently to allow marriage licenses for gay and le sbian couples. Other counties have followed, some because of rulings in lawsuits brought by same-sex couples.

A group of Republican legislators filed a lawsuit last week seeking to stop Ellins.

A lawsuit over gay marriage also is pending in Sandoval County. A lesbian couple from Placitas last week asked a district court to force Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni to issue them a marriage license. There’s been no ruling by a judge or hearing scheduled in the case as of Tuesday.

Garbagni said she won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a court orders it.

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