US: New Mexico county begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite same-sex marriage ban

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A county in New Mexico has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the state not recognising same-sex marriages.

The county clerk, our equivalent being a civil registrar, for Doña Ana County, Lynn Ellins, released a statement on Wednesday where he claimed that New Mexico’s marriage laws were “gender neutral” and to ban same-sex couples from marrying violated the United States Constitution and he went onto say that “I see no reason to make committed couples in Dona Ana County wait another minute to marry.”

The New Mexico constitution does not expressively prohibit same-sex couples from marrying but no recognition of same-sex relationships exist within the state.

The state’s Attorney General, Gary King has asked for the clerk’s office to hold off on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couple on the grounds that the state’s laws do not allow same-sex marriages.

Last month campaigners and human rights groups began to push the New Mexico Supreme Court to decide on the issue of same-sex marriage without the case having to go through the lower courts.

Currently two lesbian couples are fighting a legal battle through the courts to have same-sex marriages recognised in the state.

In 2004 another New Mexico county clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples but the courts declared these invalid and forced her to stop.