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N.M. county clerk, deputy resign to avoid issuing marriage licenses to gay couples

Friday, December 20, 2013
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PORTALES, N.M. — Two New Mexico officials responsible for issuing marriage licenses resigned their position on Friday, just one day after the state Supreme Court ordered all 33 county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Donna Carpenter

Donna Carpenter

Roosevelt County Clerk Donna Carpenter and her chief deputy, Janet Collins, tendered their resignations Friday, according to ProgressNowNM, a statewide advocacy group. The group said County Manager Charlene Webb confirmed the resignations.

Although Webb declined to say why they quit, county commissioners confirmed it was in protest of Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that says it’s unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses.

Commissioner Bill Cathey says the two had made it clear they would quit “rather than be associated with that.”

“We respect that these women made a tough decision,” said Pat Davis of ProgressNowNM. “In the end, their decision to resign is honorable if they feel that they are unable to execute their duties under the law.”

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The ruling Thursday came after county officials asked the high court to clarify the law and establish a uniform state policy on same-sex marriage.

Historically, county clerks in New Mexico have denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples because state statutes include a marriage license application with sections for male and female applicants.

“All of our county clerks deserve credit for coming together to ask for a definitive decision on this issue of equality and we look forward to every clerk in the state offering licenses to every loving couple in their county,” said Davis.

Webb said the clerk’s office is closed until the commission meets Monday to hire a replacement.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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