Another New Mexico county, Grant County, will begin offering same-sex marriage licenses this week in compliance with a court order, making it the seventh in the state to do so. One county, however, refuses to abide.
Sharon Stover says she will not offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a court order asking her to do so. She will appear in court Wednesday to defend her decision. In a statement released to the press, she explained that she was abiding by the state-issued form, which requires a bride and groom:
I based my denial of a license last week on the actual language contained in the statutes. The statements contained on the marriage license that is issued by the Clerk’s office, as set forth in State law, requires a male and female or bride and groom applicant. I respect and value the rights of each person to be treated as equally and fairly as an individual as our Constitution states. Clearly, the marriage license in State statute has not been updated since 1961. It does not work for same sex couples, and that is a matter for the legislature to fix, not a Clerk and not a District Judge.
Stover believes that it is a problem of law and thus only the legislature can fix the forms. She also called on the State Supreme Court to issue guidance for all County Clerks because “piecemeal litigation… is not good governance.” The Court has said, however, that it isn’t going to rush and will only weigh in after cases work their way through the lower courts.
Though the “outdated” forms do assume a bride and groom, New Mexico is unique in that nothing in state law dictates that marriage is limited to a man and a woman.