NM County Clerk Seeks Donations After Being Sued for Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses
A county clerk in New Mexico decided his office would start issuing same-sex marriage this summer. Now, he’s asking for donations from the public to help fund a legal battle brought against him by state legislators.
It all started in late August 2013 when the Dona Ana County Clerk’s Office started issuing same-sex marriage licenses in New Mexico. County Clerk Lynn Ellins took a deep look into the marriage laws of New Mexico and concluded, "gender-neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples.” In other words, there is no law specifically outlawing issuing same-sex marriage licenses. So on August 21, 2013, he began to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Since then, five other counties in New Mexico -- Doña Ana, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Taos, San Miguel and Valencia -- have followed suit. Ellins estimates he has issued around 200 same-sex marriage licenses in Dona Ana county, comprising about 20% of the state total so far.
This didn’t sit too well with state legislators. Although the New Mexico Attorney General Gary King refused to take action to prohibit the issuing of those licenses, seven legislators filed a lawsuit to stop Ellins, stating he overstepped his legal authority. In the lawsuit, legislators have asked the court to invalidate all same-sex marriage licenses issued in New Mexico.
The suit against Ellins is estimated to cost $40,000, according to his attorney. Ellins, who refuses to use the county’s legal team, "felt it was inappropriate" to use county resources to pay the legal fees, because the topic of the case is so controversial. Now, he’s turning to supporters of same-sex marriage for donations. So far, slightly more than $28,000 has been raised on his website, which was also funded by donations and not affiliated with the county.
So who were the seven Republican legislators who filed suit? Rep. Jimmie Hall, R-Albuquerque, Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Texico, Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, Sen. Steven Neville, R-Aztec, Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, and Sen. William Sharer of Farmington.
If you’re interested in donating money to Ellins, please visit his website Equality Dona Ana County.