County Clerk Lynn Ellins

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Thursday that marriage equality would apply statewide. That makes New Mexico the 17th marriage equality state.

Eight of the state’s 33 counties were already issuing marriage licenses. That began in August when Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his reading of New Mexico marriage law does not specify gender. Soon after he began issuing licenses, several other county clerks followed suit. Other counties began issuing marriage licenses when ordered by county courts.

The county clerks asked the Supreme Court for a ruling on same-sex marriage because they knew having a patchwork of counties issuing licenses wasn’t tenable.

The Supreme Court ruled county clerks must issue marriage licenses regardless of gender.

Despite the possibility of marriage equality being overturned by the court, 1,400 couples already have married in New Mexico since August.