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Same-sex couples to wed in Taos County - The Taos News: News

Same-sex couples to wed in Taos County

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Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 5:30 pm | Updated: 7:46 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

Taos County Clerk Anna Martínez will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning Wednesday morning (Aug. 28) following an order from the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Dale Schuette and Reg Stark were turned away when they applied for a marriage license at the clerk's office Monday morning (Aug. 26).

Martínez cited the ambiguity of New Mexico law in rejecting the couple's request, telling The Taos News that she would require a court order to issue a license to the two men.

The couple filed a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking that court order Tuesday (Aug. 27) and were granted a hearing at 4 p.m. that afternoon.

The case was assigned to Judge Sarah Backus but was heard by Judge Jeff McElroy due to a scheduling conflict.

McElroy said Schuette and Stark met all the legal requirements of marriage.

"The only reason they were denied is because they are of the same gender," the judge said, adding that New Mexico law did not prohibit the couple from marrying.

McElroy signed the writ of mandamus commanding Martínez to issue the couple a license to marry as soon as possible or present a legal argument contesting the court's order.

Martínez said she did not intend to challenge the ruling. The order would require her office to alter its forms for marriage licenses, the clerk said. She expressed concern that modifying the forms by hand could invalidate the documents.

After consulting with the county's attorney, she told Shuette and Stark that they could receive a marriage license Wednesday.

"We'll see you in the morning," she told the couple.

In the meantime, the attorney representing Schuette and Stark said she would work with a Santa Fe law firm to include the couple in a New Mexico Supreme case due to be filed Wednesday.

"We will seek a consolidation of all the cases with the Egolf law firm for a statewide ruling on the issue," retired judge Peggy Nelson told The Taos News.

"Those who are watching this issue can tell the Supreme Court will do as the district court judges have done," she added.

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.

"Probably not," Stark said. "Not after we've been together 30 years."

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