Hundreds of people have answered a New Mexico county clerk's plea for donations to help defray the cost of defending his decision to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Dona Ana county clerk 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 Monday, seven counties, representing nearly 60 percent of the state's population, have joined Dona Ana in issuing such licenses.

(Related: New Mexico could legalize gay marriage as early as next month.)

A group of Republican lawmakers, led by state Senator William Sharer, have sued to block Ellins from issuing additional licenses.

(Related: New Mexico GOPer William Sharer: Gay men should stop “whoring,” marry women.)

Ellins' office put out a request for donations to cover the cost of legal representation.

Ellins said that he “felt it was inappropriate” to use county resources to pay the legal fees and that taxpayers who do not agree with his decision should not be burdened with the bill, estimated to cost $40,000.

Less than a week after making the request, nearly 500 contributors have pledged nearly $23,000 through a website set up by ProgressNow New Mexico dedicated to raising the funds. Contributions are also being accepted at Ellins' office.