Joyful couples who gathered at the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office in anticipation of a District Court judge’s ruling ordering the clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses had to temper their enthusiasm – at least for a day.
They were unable to get their marriage licenses Monday because of a needed software change.
County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said her staff began working on updating the computer software system on Friday but had not finished the portion that pertained to the way records would be entered into their permanent archive.
“We couldn’t make those changes to the forms until we got the ruling,” Oliver said.
She said staff would work overnight to complete the necessary changes and be ready to issue licenses at 8 a.m. this morning.
Oliver said she personally has been in favor of same-sex marriage but believed her hands were tied.
“I’ve been waiting for some judicial direction on this matter, and it feels very good to have that judicial direction today,” she said.
Marriage license application forms have traditionally referred to “male” and “female” applicants. That language had to be changed to “applicant” and “applicant,” Bernalillo County spokeswoman Liz Hamm said.
The handful of couples and family members waiting in the clerk’s office Monday afternoon erupted in cheers as they watched video on their cellphones as Judge Alan Malott gave his decision allowing Oliver to issue them marriage licenses.
“It happened! My daughter can get married now!” said Gavino Noriega, who came to witness his daughter Bridgette Noriega marry her partner, Stacy Ruiz.
The excitement turned to dismay as a staffer explained they couldn’t immediately get the licenses because staff were still making software changes. Gavino Noriega called it “red tape.”
“I’m pretty disappointed,” said Chandra Shaw of Albuquerque. She said she and partner Jessica Dunn had considered going to Los Angeles to wed. But as events unfolded last week, with the Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office issuing marriage licenses, they thought of heading to Las Cruces.
“I’m excited that it is here in the place where we live,” Shaw said.
Rashada Davidson, who was planning to marry partner Caroline Parks, was philosophical about the overnight delay. “It’s government, nothing goes as planned,” Davidson said.
She said it was important to her to be able to marry in New Mexico, where she lives, instead of going out of state.