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New Mexico

Nearly 900 marriage licenses issued to gay couples in pioneer N.M. county

Saturday, July 26, 2014
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LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A county clerk in New Mexico whose actions ultimately prompted the state Supreme Court to declare same-sex marriage legal statewide, says his office issued nearly 900 marriage licenses to gay couples in the past year.

Gay couples flocked to southern New Mexico when Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced on August 21 that his office was now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.Shari Vialpando-Hill, Las Cruces Sun-News (AP)

Gay couples flocked to southern New Mexico when Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced on August 21 that his office was now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Last year, Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins — noting that New Mexico’s marriage laws were gender neutral — decided independently to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Within weeks, nine other county clerks followed Ellins’ lead, putting the issue of same-sex marriage on the front burner in New Mexico.

The action culminated in a state Supreme Court decision in December that said denying same-sex couples the right to marry violated the New Mexico state constitution. And with that, New Mexico became the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Now, almost one year later, Ellins said Friday his office has given out 896 licenses since he issued license to a same-sex couple on August 21, 2013.

Ellins says he gave out the most licenses within two months after announcing they would be made available.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts.

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