Dona Ana County commission passes resolution in support of same-sex marriage

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Six counties in New Mexico have decided to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On Tuesday, there was a heated debate in the county where it all started.

More than 100 people packed inside the county commission chambers. All of them were there to hear one item on the commission agenda: a resolution to support same-sex marriage and the county clerk's decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"The people of New Mexico have been experiencing bullying behavior here. We feel like a person has taken this law on himself to change the law," one resident said in public comment.

"We stand up and we pledge allegiance to our flag. In the end it says liberty and justice for all. That includes my child. That includes all. Period," said another resident.

It was an emotional morning inside the county commission chambers. For hours, people on both sides of the issue argued their points.

"I believe this should be removed from our agenda," said county commissioner Benjamin Rawson.

"Let the message go forth: a support for the right of having a choice and equality needs to be heard," said county commissioner David Garcia.

After several hours, the county commission voted 4-1 to approve the resolution. 

Rawson was the one who voted against it.

"This is a very serious issue, but this is a legal issue as well, and there are laws to take into account. That's how they should be addressed," he said.

Outside of the commission chambers, people hugged and cheered.

County Clerk Lynn Ellins said the resolution does not change anything legally.

"It has no binding effect on me. Had they voted not to confirm what I did, I would still be doing what I'm doing," Ellins told ABC-7.

Rep. Bill McCamley (D - Las Cruces) was the only legislator at the meeting.

"I think there's going to be a lot more pressure on both the state legislature and the supreme court to deal with the situation," McCamley told ABC-7.

Ellins said he will not back down from doing what he thinks is right.

"To characterize how some people have said it, I was the pebble that got thrown in the pool and all the ripples came thereafter. I'm going to keep issuing marriage licenses, and if someone wants to sue me, then by God, get here already," said Ellins.

Dona Ana County has issued more than 150 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Five other counties -- Bernalillo, Santa Fe, San Miguel, Valencia and Taos -- have all decided to do the same.

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