Opposition continues to rise in New Mexico after a Doña Ana County clerk started illegally issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Last month, GOP legislators took action to stop clerks in any county from taking the law into his/her own hands. And as of yesterday, eight more legislators have joined them.
Eight more Republican lawmakers have joined a lawsuit in New Mexico to argue a county clerk has usurped state law by recognizing same-sex marriages. Meanwhile, an eighth county in the state has begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, broadening the state's legal fight on the issue.
Last Friday, seven Republican lawmakers filed a lawsuit against Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, who began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples two weeks ago under the argument that New Mexico's marriage laws are "gender neutral," and therefore do not expressly prohibit him from distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The lawsuit against Ellins filed by the initial seven Republican lawmakers has since been joined by eight more Republican lawmakers, all of whom argue that Ellins is overstepping his power by distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ellins "has violated the New Mexico Constitution's separation of powers doctrine by determining on his own which laws he will enforce based upon his interpretation of the statutes and constitution," the lawsuit reads.
"It's really a separation of powers issues," Rep. Paul Bandy, one of the eight GOP lawmakers to step in on the lawsuit filed in district court, told Reuters. "I don't think the county clerk has the power to make this decision."
Paul Becht, an Albuquerque lawyer for the GOP legislators and a former state senator, told the Associated Press that his clients filed the lawsuit because they believe the issue of same-sex marriage in the state should be addressed by the legislature, and a county clerk should not take the matter into his own hands simply due to his personal beliefs. -Christian Post