State District Judge Alan Malott

A judge in Albuquerque ordered the Bernalillo county clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses in the New Mexico’s most populous county.

Bernalillo becomes the state’s third county with marriage equality. The order was handed down on Monday and the county began issuing marriage licenses this morning. The county clerk had 1,000 gender-neutral marriage licenses printed after Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing certificates to same-sex couples last week.

State District Judge Alan Malott was asked to order the state to recognize the marriage of an Albuquerque woman who is dying on her death certificate. Instead, Malott ruled the state’s constitution bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and ordered Bernalillo County, which includes the state’s largest city Albuquerque, to begin issuing marriage licenses as well.

Neither the state nor the county objected. New Mexico’s attorney general said he won’t intervene in the marriage-equality cases, even though he opposes same-sex marriage. An assistant attorney general said the Albuquerque judge’s decision is not binding on the remaining 30 counties in the state that do not have marriage equality.

New Mexico is the only state where marriage equality is not statewide with the exception of several Indian tribes that have legalized same-sex marriage on their reservations in non-equality states.

It’s likely that the state’s Supreme Court will eventually be asked to rule on marriage equality. About 20 Republican state lawmakers said last week they planned to file for an injunction against marriage equality. That high court recently ruled that two photographers who refused a gay couple’s wedding were discriminating and violating the state’s Human Rights Act.