New Mexico

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

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)

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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