By Jack King, CNJ STAFF WRITER
Resolution is third among counties in state banning issuance of same-sex licenses.
The Curry County Commission unanimously approved a resolution banning the issuance of same sex marriage licenses Tuesday, making it one of at least three commissions statewide to take the step.
The Roosevelt County Commission passed a similar resolution Tuesday and the Catron County Commission passed one April 21.
The resolution was sponsored by District 5 Commissioner Tim Ashley, who said he is still interested in pushing for an ordinance banning the practice, but sponsored a resolution for practical reasons.
“A resolution is a way to make a statement while avoiding potential litigation,” he said.
Before the vote, Ashley read the resolution, which says, in part: “The Curry County Board of Commissioners believe that marriage between a man and a woman is a relationship that is a societal good and is our society’s bedrock in keeping the traditional family as a strong, healthy unit and is vital to the preservation of morals, civilization and procreation that requires the local government getting involved with this issue.”
County Clerk Mario Trujillo said the resolution will make no difference in the way his department issues marriage licenses, because he already interprets the law to mean a license should only be issued to a man and a woman.
“But, it might spur other counties to issue resolutions and help the Legislature to take action, if it comes to that,” he added.
State Attorney General Patricia Madrid issued an advisory letter in February stating New Mexico law does not authorize a county clerk to issue a same sex license, Deputy Attorney General Glenn Smith said Tuesday.
Madrid’s office and the Sandoval County Board of Commissioners went to court in March to get a temporary restraining order forbidding Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap from issuing same sex marriage licenses, he said.
On March 31, the state Supreme Court extended the temporary restraining order “until such time as the matter can be heard on its merits,” Smith said.
He added that a status conference on the matter will be held on May 7 between 13th Judicial District Judge Louis McDonald and attorneys for Madrid’s office, Dunlap and the Sandoval County Commission.
Also at the meeting:
n Ashley asked detention center Administrator Don Burdine if it would be possible to put more inmates from the Curry County Adult Detention Center on work details in public.
Commissioner Ed Perales said the sight of prisoners picking up trash along county roads might deter some young people from committing crimes.
Burdine said the detention center doesn’t have enough personnel to provide guards for an outdoor work detail while fully staffing the detention center, and the county cannot legally require those prisoners who are not technically county prisoners to work.
Prisoners being held prior to sentencing or who legally are in custody of the state Department of Corrections, such as probation and parole violators, cannot be forced to work, he said.
The county can require misdemeanor prisoners being held in county custody to work, but out of a current population of 196, the detention center has only about 25 such inmates, he added.
Ashley said work details might be a good idea, because many of the county’s offenders do not seem to fear going to jail.
“There is a certain segment of the population that sees going to jail as an achievement,” Burdine replied.
The culture of crime is one reason “rehabilitation” doesn’t work, he said after the meeting.
“If someone is ‘succeeding,’ you can’t rehabilitate them from ‘success,’” he said. “You have to change their lifestyles.”
But, he added, he doesn’t know how that can be done.
“I don’t pretend to know the answers; I just know the problem,” he said.
Burdine said the adult detention center’s population is slightly down this week, with 196 prisoners being held in house, 110 inmates being held in Dickens County, Texas, 11 in other facilities, five on electronic house arrest, two in state custody for court-ordered diagnostic exams, two in the custody of U.S. Marshal’s and five in treatment centers.
n County Clerk Mario Trujillo reminded the commission that on Tuesday voter registration for the June 1 primary elections ended and absentee balloting began.
n County Treasurer Linda Hall pointed out that May 10 is the last day to pay the second installment of property taxes without penalty or interest charges.