N.M. GOP punishes clerk for issuing marriage licenses

BY admin

April 22 2004 12:00 AM ET

The Sandoval County, N.M., Republican Party's central committee, saying that county clerk Victoria Dunlap "has brought disgrace to the party," voted to censure her for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February. "Other than assassination, all we can do is censure her," said committee chairman Richard Gibbs. About 20 Republicans attended Tuesday night's meeting, and all but one voted to censure Dunlap.

Dunlap was not in her office to take a call Wednesday from the Associated Press seeking comment.

The censure vote came after the party was unable to put together enough support for an attempted recall of Dunlap. A censure is largely symbolic, expressing disapproval of a member's actions. The vote came a month after Dunlap announced she intended to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Her office had issued 66 marriage licenses to same-sex couples on February 20 before New Mexico attorney general Patsy Madrid's office advised that the licenses were invalid.

The lone Republican who voted against censure, Barry Bitzer, said he was concerned that people would view the vote as an attempt to exclude people from the Republican Party. "I'm afraid this will be played as a gay issue and not a good government issue," he told the committee.

Dunlap is running as a Republican for the Sandoval County Commission. She faces Chris Espinosa in the June primary election.

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