N.M. Couples Rush to Sign Marriage Licenses
At least 100 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples across New Mexico following court orders in a handful of counties, declaring that marriage rights should be extended to these couples.
In Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, Patricia Catlett and Karen Schmiege, partners of 25 years, were reportedly the first same-sex couple to receive a license.
"I’m very happy and proud to finally be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Bernalillo County," County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said on Facebook, The New York Times reports. "Furthermore, I am beyond relieved to have some judicial guidance in this matter that immediately resolves the conflict that existed between state law and our state constitution. Marriage is a fundamental civil right that should be acknowledged and respected at all levels of government."
Later, a mass wedding in Albuquerque's Civic Plaza took place Tuesday while other couples applied for marriage licenses in the county's offices. Albuquerque has printed 1,000 gender-neutral licenses in anticipation of the influx of same-sex couples seeking to exchange vows, according to TV station KRQE (video below).
Now six of New Mexico's 33 counties — Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Taos, Valencia, San Miguel, and Doña Ana — will issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. More than half of New Mexico residents — 56% — live in a county with marriage equality.