— Photos by Juan Antonio Labreche
About 50 couples lined up before 8 a.m. this morning outside the Clerk’s Office in downtown Albuquerque, where Bernalillo County’s first same-sex marriage licenses were issued. The first couple to receive a license was Patricia Catlett, 61, and Karen Schmiege, 69, of Albuquerque. They have been together 25 years and had a wedding ceremony planned in two weeks but decided to get married today, as the third county in New Mexico began issuing licenses.
In Santa Fe County and Doña Ana County, licenses were issued to gay and lesbian couples last week.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver told the Compass in March that every year on Valentine’s Day, protesters would come into her office and apply for licenses. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to issue them,” she said.
Her office was prevented from doing so, she added, by an opinion state Attorney General Patricia Madrid issued in 2004. In February of that year, Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap had issued licenses to same-sex couples because, she said, New Mexico marriage law doesn’t specify gender. Madrid put a stop the festivities after 66 were issued.
Yesterday, District Judge Alan Malott said the state’s constitution prevents discrimination, so same-sex marriage is legal here.
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