Taos is a small town; the whole of Taos County has something short of 33,000 population. And it's the 6th county in New Mexico to announce it will issue same sex marriage licenses, starting tomorrow morning. It feels special because I'm personally acquainted with Judge Jeff McElroy who issued the order, on behalf of District Judge Sarah Backus. I contributed to Backus's election campaign, which was run by an old friend.
A state district court judge in Taos has signed an alternative writ of mandamus directing the Taos County clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The alternative writ requires Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez to begin issuing licenses, or explain why she won’t during a hearing scheduled for Sept. 5.For many years, I've turned in voter registration forms to Anna Martinez. She's the one to sign up with to be a poll worker, which I've done numerous times. I say hi to her at the grocery store. And now:
The Taos County clerk says she will start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday, making it the sixth county in New Mexico to do so. Clerk Anna Martinez said she would follow a district court judge’s order issued Tuesday directing her office to grant licenses to gay and lesbian couples. She said her office will make license applications available starting at 8 a.m.She could contest it, but she's not doing so.
A gay couple, Dale Schuette and Reg Stark, applied for a license on Monday - yesterday, that is. Martinez said the law was ambiguous so she'd need a court order. This afternoon, they got a hearing, an immediate ruling in their favor and a hug from the County Clerk. Once she issues the license in the morning, Judge McElroy will perform the ceremony.
Leaving the courthouse with mere hours to plan for their wedding due to be presided over by Judge McElroy, Schuette asked Stark if he expected to feel different after the ceremony.This is 6 out of 33 counties of the state, but it's over half the state's population in those 6 counties, so the process is well underway. There's something extra special for this to be happening right at home, policy carried out by people I know and like personally. Good step forward, this.
"Probably not," Stark said. "Not after we've been together 30 years."
There's more could be said, but that's the main point. I've got an arm temporarily out of commission, so typing is tough just now. But I did want to share this happy smile in a world fraught with so much trouble.
The six counties are listed below (with major cities/towns, 2010 Census population.) In the order they've come on board:
- Santa Fe (Santa Fe) pop. 146,375
- Dona Ana (Las Cruces) pop. 214,445
- Bernalillo (Albuquerque) pop. 662,564
- San Miguel (Las Vegas) pop. 28,891
- Valencia (Belen, Los Lunas), pop. 76,571
- Taos (Taos) pop. 32,779