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N.M. county clerk to donate unused legal funds to marriage equality campaign

Sunday, January 12, 2014
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A southern New Mexico county clerk who faced a lawsuit for issuing same-sex marriage licenses is donating the remainder of his defense fund to a marriage equality advocacy campaign.

Shari Vialpando-Hill, Las Cruces Sun-News/AP
Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins.

Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins plans to give the money to New Mexico Unites for Marriage Equality, reports The Las Cruces Sun-News.

Ellins, who announced his decision Friday, says a several thousand dollars are left.

In September, a website raised $33,067 for Ellins’ defense in a lawsuit filed by a group of state legislators challenging the issue of the licenses. Another $3,000 came from mail-in donations.

Dona Ana County officials say Ellins’ legal expenses were about $31,000.

On Aug. 21, Ellins was the first county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after determining that there were no laws specifically prohibiting him from doing so.

His actions ultimately led to a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in December that barring same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses was unconstitutional.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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