April 7, 2004
Curry County To Consider Ban On Same-Sex Marriage
The Associated Press
CLOVIS The Curry County Commission plans to consider a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the county clerk from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Commissioner Tim Ashley said it's not likely the conservative clerk would issue such licenses, but he believes the ordinance is necessary to spell out how his constituents feel about gay marriage.
"We're a conservative community and we feel strongly about the family unit and family values," Ashley said Wednesday. "We want our voice to go on the record so that when this is issue is being debated in the Roundhouse, at least we will be heard."
Ashley introduced a motion to hear the proposed ordinance during Tuesday's commission meeting. Commissioners voted 3-1 to put the proposal on their April 20 agenda.
The proposal, Ashley said, is also meant to avoid the heartache experienced in Sandoval County in February when Clerk Victoria Dunlap issued 66 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
The move created a political firestorm. The state attorney general declared the licenses invalid and the state Supreme Court ordered that a temporary restraining order remain in place to keep Dunlap from issuing any more same-sex licenses until a district court can rule on the case.
Steve Kopelman, risk manager for the New Mexico Association of Counties, said he was unaware of any other counties considering a measure like the one in Curry County.
Ashley said he said he hoped the county would serve as a model for those who feel the same about gay marriage.
"This is something communities in need speak out about," he said.
Ashley acknowledged that all individuals need to be respected, but he thinks the proposed Curry County ordinance is "the right thing to do for the constituents that I represent."
Curry County Commission Chairwoman Kathrynn Tate said she voted against the motion to consider the ban because the state attorney general was already studying the matter.
Commissioner Pete Hulder said he abstained from Tuesday's vote because he doesn't feel now is the time to consider such a motion.
"I feel like we don't need to stir up a hornets' nest," he said.