As America fumbles and stumbles toward marriage equality...trailing even France, our legal and societal ineptness is nowhere plainer than in New Mexico. Mirabile dictu, 64 same couples married there on February 20, 2004.
Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap announced she'd issue the licenses. Turned out that she found that nothing in the state law prohibited it, nothing limited marriages to a man/woman combo. Her office was perking from 8 AM until 4:10 PM 4:10 p.m when then-Attorney General Patricia Madrid halted the process. By then 66 licenses were complete, but dozens of same-sex couples were left in line.
In all, 66 licenses were issued. Dozens were left in line.
Among the unanswered questions in the 9 years since are:
- Are the 64 marriages valid? (A judge ruled one couple seeking divorce had a valid marriage, but that only applied to their case.)
- Why haven't lawmakers legalized or made illegal SSM there? (NM has a strong equal-rights law that forbids gender discrimination.)
- Can clerks start issuing these licenses again? (They have an informal agreement to wait for the legislature to do something solid and sensible.)
Census stats say NM has the fifth greatest percentage of gay couples. It's a reasonable place to get sensible.