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Judge OKs same-sex marriage in Bernalillo County

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Judge Alan M. Malott makes his ruling on licenses for same sex couples.  Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal.)

Judge Alan M. Malott makes his ruling on licenses for same sex couples. Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal.)

District Judge Alan Malott on Monday ordered the Bernalillo County clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying New Mexico laws that might seem to prevent them are unconstitutional.

Malott issued the dramatic order after a brief hearing in 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque.

The judge ordered the clerks of Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County to follow their statutory duty and issue marriage licenses “without regard to the couples’ sexual orientation or gender.

Malott said any seeming prohibitions in New Mexico statutes against same-sex marriage “are unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said her office plans to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting Tuesday at 8 a.m. Toulouse Oliver said her office needed a little more time to be prepared to issue the new licenses.

Judge Malott’s order


 


The story below was originally published on Albuquerque Journal’s front page Monday, Aug. 26, 2013.

By Aurelio Sanchez / Journal Staff Writer

Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver has readied up to 1,000 new gender-neutral marriage licenses in case District Judge Alan Malott issues a court ruling today supporting same-sex marriage, Oliver said Sunday.

Although a hearing scheduled at 3 p.m. before Malott in Albuquerque is ostensibly to consider related motions, Oliver said she’s getting ready in case the judge issues a ruling supporting same-sex marriage.

The motion before Malott asks that a Santa Fe couple be allowed to join five other couples in a previously filed lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s opposition to granting same-sex marriage licenses.

“We know there’s a lot of folks paying attention to this issue and a lot of folks eagerly anticipating such a ruling (in support of same-sex marriage), and so we want to be ready go in as soon as possible,” Oliver said.

“There’s nothing to indicate that I’ll wake up and there will be a favorable ruling, but given that all the plaintiffs and their attorneys will be in the room, I suppose it’s possible that something might happen, and so that is what I am preparing for,” she said.

In case of a ruling supporting same-sex marriage, Oliver said, then “I would anticipate there being a large number of individuals that will be wanting to take advantage, and I’m just making sure my staff is preparing to handle that.”

A Santa Fe couple, Jen Roper, and her partner, Angelique Neuman, filed a motion last week seeking a licence, filed in state District Court in Albuquerque.

Roper, 44, was diagnosed with brain cancer in December, and given 18 months to live. Roper said in her declaration in the motion that “Nothing would mean more to us and to our sons than to celebrate our love and commitment through legal marriage in our home, New Mexico.”

The couple also filed a request with Malott to allow them to join five other couples in a previously filed lawsuit challenging the state’s opposition to granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On the same day that Roper and Neuman made their filing, Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, maintaining that state marriage laws are gender neutral. On Friday, a state District Court in Santa Fe ruled in favor of granting same-sex licenses to couples.

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