In just 4-days, it will be 4-years since 43 same-sex couples walked into the Dona Ana County Court House to get their marriage license. A first for not just the county, but also, one of the first for state of New Mexico.

We talked to one of the very first couples who got their license that day, who tell us it was all possible because of one brave man.

“Somebody had to step forward to do it, and he knew he could do it,” says Carrie Hamblen, sitting next to her wife Char Ullman. Both say it feels like yesterday they were one of the first couples to walk into the Dona Ana County Clerks Office and told yes when they applied for a marriage license.

“There are 1400 couples that are indebted to Lynn for everything he did, I think it’s an amazing thing and we’re very lucky to be able to share that anniversary,” says Hamblen.

It was August 21st, 2013. A controversial decision made by then Dona Ana County Clerk  Lynn Ellins to be one of the first counties in New Mexico to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Ellins says, “It was like the California gold rush. We issued 43-licenses that day. The constitution in my mind clearly permitted same-sex marriage licenses. And my primary responsibility is to uphold the constitution.”

The New Mexico Supreme Court agreed with Ellins, who says, “When I asked the night before if anyone would like to bow out from issuing the licesnes, not one person said he or she didn’t want to.”

Four days later, Ellins says pending same-sex marriage cases in Albuquerque and Santa Fe followed suit. Hamblen says, “I was watching on social media that such and such county will now issue same sex marriage licenses, and another county clerk will issue marriage licenses, you just saw it keep going and going. And just the feel of that momentum of that day.”

Ellins says as of Thursday, the clerk’s office has given out 1,444 same-sex marriage licenses, but he will never forget those very first 43-couples who came into his office those 4- years ago. Ellins saying,
“We issued 43-licenses that day, and I remember there were 43-smiling happy people.”

Although Ellins isn’t the county clerk anymore, he is still very much involved serving as the acting Deputy Dona Ana County Clerk since he could not run again due to term limits.