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New Mexico MarriageA steady stream of gay couples filtered into Santa Fe County Courthouse on Friday. They weren’t there to protest or to rally, they were there to get married, legally married.

The second county in New Mexico began issuing marriage licenses on Friday. This is a result of a court order that came just two days after the county clerk, Geraldine Salazar decided on her own to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Salazar kept her office open until 7 p.m. to give more people the opportunity to get married before the weekend.

The first couple to get a license in the state’s third-largest county was Santa Fe County Commissioner Liz Stefanics and Linda Siegle, a lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, a gay rights group. Stefanics is a former Democratic state senator.

Salazar also sent a staffer to the chemotherapy suite at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, so Jen Roper of Pojoaque, who is dying of brain cancer, could marry Angelique Neuman.

By late afternoon, more than 45 licenses had been issued, including one to Carolyn Dechaine and Kristina McKeown of Santa Fe, who heard the news on Facebook. Group weddings also were being offered.

“You could feel the momentum building that this was coming,” Dechaine said. “But we didn’t know it would be today. When we woke up this morning, we were not thinking it was going to be such an eventful day.”

The order late Thursday from District Judge Sarah Singleton represents the first time a New Mexico judge has ruled that gay and lesbian couples can be married, said state Rep. Brian Egolf, a lawyer representing Hanna and Hudson in the lawsuit.

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