The clerk in Doña Ana County, New Mexico began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday morning.
County Clerk Lynn Ellins took the action based on the widely accepted legal opinion that the state constitution does not expressly prohibit same-sex marriage.
The issue is currently making its way through the state court system, but the New Mexico Supreme Court has yet to issue a formal resolution.
Ellins said he believes the practice will eventually be declared legal, adding that he didn’t want to keep the residents of Doña Ana County waiting the six to 10 months it could take for an official ruling to be released.
"I’m not inventing the wheel on this. I think it’s clear that this is the way the country is moving. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s the legal thing to do," Ellins said.
New Mexico currently recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Ellins said the applications and licenses his office has been issuing have been updated to be gender neutral.
The county, which includes the city of Las Cruces, is in the southernmost part of the state.