Doña Ana County Commission Votes to back Lynn Ellins on Same-Gender Marriage Licenses

By a vote of 4-1, the Doña Ana County Commission passed a resolution supporting County Clerk Lynn Ellins’ decision to issue same-gender marriage licenses.

The Dona Ana County Commission hears public testimony on same gender licenses. (left to right) County Clerk Lynn Ellins, Commissioner David Garcia, Commissioner, Benjamin Rawson, Commissioner Billy Garrett, Commissioner Wayne Hancock, Commissioner Leticia Duarte Benevidez)

The Dona Ana County Commission hears public testimony on same gender licenses. (left to right) County Clerk Lynn Ellins, Commissioner David Garcia, Commissioner, Benjamin Rawson, Commissioner Billy Garrett, Commissioner Wayne Hancock, Commissioner Leticia Duarte Benevidez)

An overflow crowd, which was overwhelmingly in support of marriage equality, packed the Doña Ana County Government Center on Tuesday to give public testimony and hear debate on the decision by County Clerk Lynn Ellins to issue the licenses six days ago. For a time it appeared that the vote might not happen when Commissioner David J. Garcia (D-District 1) and Commissioner Leticia Duarte Benevidez (D-District 5) joined Commissioner Benjamin Rawson (R-District 3) in voting to remove the resolution from the Commission agenda.

However, following a decision by Commission Chair Billy Garrett (D-District 2) to accept public comment, and hearing citizen testimony which spanned nearly two hours, and which clearly showed public sentiment in favor of Clerk Ellins, Commissioner Benevidez successfully moved to reconsider and put the issue back before the County Commission.

An overflow crowd filled the Doña Ana County Government Center, most supporting marriage equality.

An overflow crowd filled the Doña Ana County Government Center, most supporting marriage equality.

All four Democrats, Commissioners David J. Garcia, Commissioner Billy Garrett, Commissioner Wayne Hancock, and Commissioner Leticia Duarte Benevidez cast votes in favor of the resolution supporting County Clerk Lynn Ellins. The lone no vote was cast by Republican Benjamin Rawson who was recently appointed to fill a vacancy on the Commission by Governor Susana Martinez.

Earlier today San Miguel County Clerk Melanie Rivera and Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carbajal announced they would also begin issuing same-gender marriage licenses.