Clerk to fight judge's order on gay marriage licenses

Posted at: 09/04/2013 8:36 AM
Updated at: 09/04/2013 1:23 PM
By: Erica Zucco and Elizabeth Reed, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Los Alamos county clerk isn't following other county clerks in New Mexico. On Wednesday, she is set to fight a judge's order to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Clerk Sharon Stover said the current marriage license forms require a male and female applicant. She recognizes that the forms are outdated, but said it's something for the legislature to deal with.

Stover also said she wants direction from the New Mexico Supreme Court that applies to all counties. Currently, clerks in five counties that are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples have either done so on their own accord or by order of a district judge.

Doña Ana County started the movement two weeks ago, followed by Valencia, Bernalillo, Santa Fe and San Miguel counties.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Stick with KOB Eyewitness News 4 and for updates.

Full statement from Stover:

Last week, Los Alamos County received a lawsuit and related order from First Judicial District Court Judge Sheri Raphaelson compelling the Clerk's office to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, or appear before her in court on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at 10 a.m. to explain why the licenses are not being issued. As previously stated on Friday, I consider this to be a matter of great importance, not only to Los Alamos County, but to all County Clerks in New Mexico, as I have already indicated by my support in joining all of the other Clerks in the New Mexico Association of Counties' request for the State Supreme Court to provide procedural guidance on how we should proceed.

I have weighed my options carefully over the holiday weekend in reaching a decision. First, as Clerk, I am required to uphold the laws of the State of New Mexico. I based my denial of a license last week on the actual language contained in the statutes. The statements contained on the marriage license that is issued by the Clerk's office, as set forth in State law, requires a male and female or bride and groom applicant. I respect and value the rights of each person to be treated as equally and fairly as an individual as our Constitution states. Clearly, the marriage license in State statute has not been updated since 1961. It does not work for same sex couples, and that is a matter for the legislature to fix, not a Clerk and not a District Judge. A marriage license is a legally binding, permanent record signed by both applicants. Because the license issue has not previously been addressed in any of the other court proceedings, I have decided to appear before Judge Raphaelson tomorrow at 10 a.m. in Los Alamos to state my concern about the outdated and deficient forms.  The County Attorney has filed our answer to the writ of mandamus we received last week, and I will let that document address each of the concerns specifically without further comment. In fact, because I will be appearing in court, it would not be appropriate for me to give any further comments to the media prior to Wednesday morning.