County Clerk Lynn Ellins

The Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins in Las Cruses, N.M., began issuing marriage licenses on Wednesday. Ellins issued 40 licenses the first day.

The Las Cruces Sun-News reported that local churches began performing wedding ceremonies soon after the county started issuing licenses.

Unlike other states that do not have marriage equality, New Mexico state law does not specify that marriage is between a man and a woman. The state has no anti-gay marriage amendment.

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he is not sure if state law allows same-sex marriages and asked county clerks to wait until the courts decide the issue. He said he would not interfere with Ellins’ decision but the marriages might be declared invalid once the case gets to the state Supreme Court.

Former governor Bill Richardson tried to pass a marriage equality law before leaving office but came up short by a few votes.

After Dona Ana County, many expected liberal Santa Fe to be the next county to begin issuing marriage certificates.

Las Cruces is about 30 miles north of El Paso on Interstate 10 and is the state’s second largest city.

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, wants the issue to go to a popular vote.

Below is a report from KRWG News, the public broadcasting station in El Paso and Las Cruces.