February 20th, 2004

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New Mexico Clerk To Issue Gay Marriage Licenses
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: February 20, 2004 11:22 a.m. ET

(Albuquerque, New Mexico) Sandoval County, a community of about 90,000 people just north of Albuquerque will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

County Clerk Victoria Dunlap said she fears a lawsuit if she does not grant the licenses to gay couples.

Sandoval County attorney David Mathews agrees there is potential same-sex couples could sue under New Mexico law if the licenses were refused.

State law defines marriage as a civil contract between contracting parties, but does not mention gender.

Dunlap said she has not been approached by any same-sex couple seeking a license but after reading about the recent court decision in Massachusetts which has similar laws she became concerned that a refusal could end up in a lengthy and expensive court battle which the county would not win.

"This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible,'' said Dunlap.

A spokesperson for state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, Sam Thompson, said the attorney general's office never has been asked for an opinion on the issue
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Marriage Licenses Issued in New Mexico

New Mexico County Begins Issuing Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples
SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press Writer
Friday, February 20, 2004

(02-20) 13:04 PST BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) --

A county clerk issued marriage licenses Friday to at least 15 gay couples, some of whom then exchanged vows outside the courthouse, as more same-sex couples lined up for a chance to tie the knot.

A sign-up list at Sandoval County courthouse grew to 38 couples after county clerk Victoria Dunlap announced she would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Dunlap said she made the decision after county attorney David Mathews said New Mexico law is unclear: New Mexico law defines marriage as a contract between contracting parties but does not mention gender.

"This has nothing to do with politics or morals," she said. "If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can't withhold it. This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible."

Outside the courthouse, two preachers conducted marriage ceremonies.

"When we heard the news this morning, we knew we couldn't wait. We had to come down here," said Jenifer Albright of Albuquerque, who exchanged vows with partner Anne Shultz.

The move came just over a week after San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to thousands of gay couples in a direct challenge to California law.

Two New Mexico state senators -- one Democrat and one Republican -- asked Friday for an opinion from New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid. A spokeswoman for Madrid said an opinion could be issued next week.

Republican state Sen. Steve Komadina criticized the county clerk and called for a prompt opinion from the attorney general.

"I feel badly that action was taken before an answer was obtained," Komadina said. "That was very irresponsible and will cause heartache to people on all sides of the question."

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Judge Denies Immediate Stay of Gay Marriages

LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
Friday, February 20, 2004

02-20) 16:52 PST SAN FRANCISCO (AP) --

Gay and lesbian couples won another reprieve Friday when a judge declined to immediately stop San Francisco from granting them marriage licenses, saying conservative groups failed to prove the weddings would cause irreparable harm.

Judge Ronald Evans Quidachay denied the Campaign for California Families' request for a temporary restraining order but said the group did have the right to a hearing on their argument that the city is violating state law.

The conservative group argued that the weddings harmed all the Californians who voted in 2000 for Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

The judge suggested that the rights of the gay and lesbian couples appeared to be more substantial.

"If the court has to weigh rights here, on the one hand you are talking about voting rights, and on the other you are talking about equal rights," Quidachay said.
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