Same-sex couples travel to Doña Ana County for marriage licenses

Posted at: 08/21/2013 9:10 PM
Updated at: 08/22/2013 10:17 AM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Doña Ana County Clerk started handing out same-sex marriage licenses at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

The state's attorney general had previously requested the state's 33 counties refrain from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples until the issue is defined by the New Mexico State Supreme Court.

But County Clerk Lynn Ellins says he is confident same-sex marriage is legal in the state so gay couples should not have to wait any longer.

Doña Ana County is the only county in the state where gay couples are being allowed to marry.

By 5 p.m. 42 gay couples walked out with a marriage license.

"You are all set. It's all done. Congratulations," said a county clerk employee handing a gay couple their marriage license.

It wasn't just Doña Ana County residents signing up for marriage.

Couples from El Paso and other parts of New Mexico got to Las Cruces as fast as they could.

Lisa Taj McCellon and Stacey Driskell drove in from Albuquerque.

"Our county clerk who hasn't been brave enough to stand up, despite the clear law," said McCellon.

They say they've filled out marriage license applications five times in New Mexico, but they were turned down until today.

"We have three kids so this is important for all of us," said McCellon.

It wasn't just gay couples praising the county clerk's decision.

One couple says they weren't going to get married until Thursday, but decided to join in the historic day.

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins says he's read the state's constitution closely, but he adds that his decision isn't just about the law.

"From a legal perspective I think the attorney general is right on that the court will declare this action that I'm taking valid," said Ellins. "I believe in my heart it's the right thing to do."

Ellins says his office will open Thursday at 8 a.m. for business as usual.

He says he'll continue to issue licenses to same-sex couples, unless told otherwise by a judge.