Same-sex couples receive marriage licenses from Dona Ana County
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Dozens of same-sex couples rushed to the Dona Ana County Government Center Wednesday morning after County Clerk Lynn Ellins announced his office would begin issuing licenses to all applicants.
Ellins said he had been considering issuing licenses to all couples since last June when Attorney General Gary King was asked for an opinion on the state denying same-sex marriage licenses.
"It was the right thing to do legally and morally," Ellins said.
Some couples dropped everything they were doing Wednesday to get a license and make their marriages official.
Ric Rao and John Schuster have been together for 43 years and jumped at the opportunity for a marriage license.
"I'm still in shock I never thought I'd be alive to see this day," Schuster said.
After picking up their license, Rao and Schuster proceeded to get married at Holy Family Ecumenical Catholic Church.
Father James Lehman said he performed a handful of weddings immediately after Ellins' announcement.
After the ceremony, the couple returned to the government center to have their marriage put on record.
"It was just an unusual turn of events, but it worked out perfectly for us," Rao said.