Two county officials in New Mexico have decided the legalization of gay marriage in New Mexico has left them unable to complete their duties. Roosevelt County clerk Donna Carpenter and her chief deputy, Janet Collins, have decided to resign instead of handling marriage licenses for gay couples. They officially left their positions last Friday.
“We respect that these women made a tough decision,” said Pat Davis of ProgressNowNM in a press release. “In the end, their decision to resign is honorable if they feel that they are unable to execute their duties under the law. All of our county clerks deserve credit for coming together to ask for a definitive decision on this issue of equality and we look forward to every clerk in the state offering licenses to every loving couple in their county.” A new clerk will be appointed to the position in the coming weeks.
New Mexico’s decision to legalize gay marriage came just 24 hours before Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. A lawsuit had been brought against the state by three gay and lesbian couples in Utah, claiming that their constitutional rights were being violated in not being allowed to get married. Although the gay marriage ban was passed by voters in 2004, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby struck it down and declared it violated gay and lesbians couples’ rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Attorneys for the state argued that the law was simply supporting the “optimal mode of child rearing,” but Shelby said the state didn’t successfully prove that allowing gay marriage would affect same-sex marriage in any way. Although it’s unclear when gay marriages will begin taking place in Utah, it appears likely that this will happen sometime in 2014.