Judge Upholds Ruling for Los Alamos County Clerk to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples
The courtroom erupted in applause this morning in the Los Alamos Justice Center.
District Judge Sheri Raphaelson upheld her previous ruling ordering Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Stover denied Los Alamos school teachers Janet Newton and Maria Thibodeau a marriage license last week. They hired attorneys Brian Egolf and John Day of Egolf + Ferlic + Day in Santa Fe to represent them in court action against Stover.
Stover explained that her denial was based on the actual language contained in State 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," she said.
Judge Sheri Raphaelson did not agree with the arguments presented by Los Alamos County Attorney Rebecca Ehler on behalf of Stover.
"State statute section 40-1-19 actually criminalizes a clerk failing to grant a marriage license to a couple who meet the requirements ... it even calls for removal from office...," Raphaelson said. "In section 40-1-10, it says the clerk shall issue a marriage license ... and shall means shall."
Following the judge's ruling, Newton and Thibodeau traveled to the Clerk's Office at the Municipal Building where Stover issued them a marriage license.
"We are honoring the judges decision," Stover said. "This case was the first opportunity to bring it up relative to the form, which is the issue."
The marriage license form has not been updated since 1961, Stover said, adding that maybe now the path will be clearer to bring the issue before the legislature and the Supreme Court.
"We want a uniform decision that all 33 clerks in the state can follow," Stover said.
Los Alamos is now the seventh county in New Mexico issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.