Dona Ana County commissioners on Tuesday approved a symbolic more
than legal statement of support for County Clerk Lynn Ellins.
Ellins sparked a small revolution when he announced on August 21
that New Mexico's marriage laws, which are phrased in a
gender-neutral manner, do not prohibit gay couples from marrying.
Seven counties, representing nearly 60 percent of the state's
population, have joined Dona Ana in issuing such licenses, some by
Nearly 300 people attended the session, one of the largest crowds
in recent memory, the Las
Cruces Sun-News reported.
Two Democrats joined Republican County Commissioner Ben Rawson in
voting to remove the measure from the county's agenda.
“This is not an issue that should be decided upon at the local
level,” Rawson said. “This is an issue that should be decided on
the state level and on the Supreme Court level.”
But after hearing impassioned speeches in support of the measure,
including from State Rep. Bill McCamley, a Democrat from Las Cruces,
the two Democratic commissioners, David Garcia and Leticia
Duarte-Benavidez, reversed course.
“This is one of those issues where leadership is important –
for someone to stand up and say: 'This is the way we should go,'”
McCamley told commissioners.
Ellins, who has said that the New Mexico constitution prohibits
discrimination based on gender, denied the claims of some opponents:
“I'm not making new law. I'm carrying out old law.”
Supporters thanked Ellins with a bouquet of flowers.
The audience stood up and cheered after the measure was approved
with a 4-1 vote.
Mexico GOP lawmakers say gay marriage prohibited because gays cannot