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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque judge on Monday ordered the clerk of New Mexico's most populous county to join two other counties in the state in issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples.
The order from State District Judge Alan Malott came in a case involving a lesbian couple who sought an emergency ruling because one of them is dying.
In an unexpected turn, the couple was able to get married Friday after a judge in a separate case ordered the Santa Fe clerk to issue same-sex licenses. Also last week, the clerk of Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico decided on his own to recognize same-sex marriage.
Malott said New Mexico's constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Earlier Monday, Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said she had 1,000 licenses printed in case Malott ordered her to issue licenses for same-sex marriages.
The hearing originally was scheduled on an emergency motion to force the county to issue a marriage license to Jen Roper, who is dying of cancer, and Angelique Neuman because of Roper's cancer.
The couple last week joined a lawsuit brought the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of five other lesbian couples. But Roper and Neuman got married Friday in the lobby of the cancer center at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after a judge in a different lawsuit ordered the Santa Fe County clerk to issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
By Friday evening, 49 same-sex couples had received marriage licenses there, with many of them getting married on the spot.
Monday morning, couples were lined up in Santa Fe waiting for the clerk's office to open. Before noon, another 64 same-sex couples had received licenses there.
Also last week, Dona Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins began on his own issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He started issuing the licenses Wednesday. Ellins said 137 couples from around the state and from neighboring Texas got licenses last week, and 12 more had received them by midmorning Monday.
A group of Republican legislators is planning to file a lawsuit to stop Ellins.
Ellins, however, says, "I think the train has pulled out of the station.