Valencia County set to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses

Posted at: 08/27/2013 10:09 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Valencia County Clerk said she was inspired to move forward with same-sex marriages after calling the Southern New Mexico County Clerk, who started issuing marriage licenses almost a week ago.

Peggy Carabajal thought, what better day to celebrate civil rights than on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington?

On Wednesday, the Valencia County Courthouse will witness an historic movement.

Same-sex couples will be able to walk down to the clerk’s office and legalize their union.

But some residents won’t ever sign-off on the idea.

“To tell you the truth God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, ok? There's where I stand," said Ernie Perea of Los Lunas.

The newly elected clerk says she has read the state constitution and consulted with the county’s attorney.

“I think these marriage licenses are going to be valid,” said Carabajal. “We cannot be turning people away.”

Carabajal says she first called the Dona Ana County Clerk last Wednesday when he started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"I was one that did call to ask what he based his decision on," she said.

Then after the district court ruling allowing gay marriage in Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County, the Republican county clerk knew it was time to follow suit.

Asked if she feels she’s going “rogue,” Carabajal responds, “I think it's a tough situation for every county clerk to make. I think the High Court should make the decision and not just individual county clerks."

The clerk’s office has already updated its marriage applications online.

It has also ordered 500 new marriage licenses.

The current certificates that state “bride” and “groom” will be replaced with certificates with “spouse” and “spouse.”

Some residents in the county of about 76,000 approve of Carabajal’s decision.

“I'm all in favor of it,” said Rory McGuill. “I think that people should have the right to marry who they love, so I'm all in favor of it and … Go county clerk!”

The Valencia County Clerk’s Office has already received about 30 calls from interested couples.

The office opens at 8 a.m., but the clerk expects the new gender-neutral marriage licenses to be delivered at around 10 a.m. So, she has set a time of 12 noon to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.