The Dona Ana county clerk being sued by New Mexico Republicans for deciding independently to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples is seeking donors to help defray the county's legal bills.

Lynn Ellins sparked a small revolution when he announced on August 21 that New Mexico's laws did not prohibit gay couples from marrying. As of next week, seven counties, representing nearly 60 percent of the state's population, will join Dona Ana in issuing such licenses.

(Related: Los Alamos: Eighth New Mexico county issues marriage licenses to gay couples.)

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, Ellins' office has started requesting donations to cover its legal defense bills.

Ellins said that he “felt it was inappropriate” to use county resources to pay the legal fees. He said taxpayers who do not agree with his decision should not be burdened with the bill.

Ellins said that his attorney had estimated the defense will cost $40,000.

The group ProgressNow New Mexico has launched a website dedicated to raising the funds. As of Thursday, nearly $7,100 had been received from 157 contributors.