In Brief - New Mexico News - Aug. 23, 2013

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From The Associated Press

Doña Ana clerk issues 35 same-sex licenses

ALBUQUERQUE — Gay couples rushed to a courthouse in Las Cruces on Wednesday after the county clerk decided to issue same-sex marriage licenses in a surprise move that came as several legal challenges on the practice make their way through the courts.
“I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘You want to get married?’” said Char Ullman, 51. “I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”
Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his office had provided 35 licenses to same-sex couples compared to four or five given on an average day to heterosexual couples.
“It’s a happy office today. Lots of happy people,” he said. “One of the first couples that came in today said they had been waiting 31 years. Another couple says they’ve been waiting 43 years. It’s time to stop waiting.”
Jeff Williams, a public information officer in the county’s government and a reverend with Universal Life Church, said he was marrying same-sex couples all day long while wearing his rainbow-colored tie.
Outside the courthouse, television reporters were busy interviewing the people getting married and there was no sign of any protesters.
Ellins said he had carefully read state laws and concluded the “state’s marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples.”
Later in the day, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he had no plans to challenge the move.

Judge: No autopsy in Hilburn homicide case

ALBUQUERQUE — A judge has ruled that an autopsy won’t be allowed in the case of a 10-year-old New Mexico boy accused of killing his abusive father.
Judge George Eichwald ruled Wednesday that the autopsy in the death of 42-year-old Byron Hilburn is disallowed in a case scheduled to begin Monday in Valencia County District Court.
Eichwald also issued a ruling that may move the case to a higher court. The case has been scheduled for children’s court.
Prosecutors say the 10-year-old put a gun to the head of his 250-pound father and killed him at their Belen home in 2009.