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County issues same-sex marriage licenses

Nye County issued two same-sex marriage licenses Monday, the first for the county since the federal courts overturned the bans in Nevada and Idaho on Oct. 7.

County Clerk Sam Merlino said both licenses were issued in Pahrump, one to a male couple. She did not know the identity of the second couple.

Merlino said the staff was ready when the couples arrived.

“We didn’t have any issues but we didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “We just wanted a smooth transition and so we’re happy with that.”

While Nye County has issued two, other rural counties have yet to issue any.

A survey of clerks from Churchill to White Pine counties has identified only a few licenses issued to same-sex couples so far, one in Elko County and the two here.

But clerks or their staff have all said they are ready to issue the marriage licenses should a couple request one. No issues or concerns have been reported by the clerks.

Several clerks said they do not issue more than a few licenses in a year because of the population base in the counties.

Bev Conley, clerk-treasurer of Eureka County, said her office saw only 10 marriage licenses issued in 2013 in total. But the office has received a call from a same-sex couple so there may be a license issued soon, she said.

The community is fairly conservative, and there may be some residents who are uncomfortable with the court decision, but there have been no issues with the process, Conley said.

Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson said the county has received no requests for marriage licenses from same-sex couples yet, which is a bit of a surprise since the county issues licenses at its Lake Tahoe offices.

The county’s Tahoe office does a big business with wedding licenses because of the location, which is popular for weddings, he said.

Carson City had seen four same-sex marriage licenses issued through midday Monday, with two of the couples getting married in the District Court offices on Saturday.

Washoe County had issued 27 licenses to same-sex couples through midday Monday, while Clark County was up to 141.

Merlino said the all the state clerks had prepared for the change, meeting during the summer to discuss the transition.

“I think everybody just wanted to play it safe and wait until all of the court rulings were over with,” Merlino said. “All of the clerks in the state met about a month ago preparing for this day. All of us just wanted the smoothest transition as possible, and basically it was a smooth transition for every one I believe.”

The first Nye County same-sex marriage licenses came the same day the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage filed a petition with the 9th Circuit Court seeking a rehearing on the Nevada same-sex marriage case by the full court.

The petition argues that the assignment of the case to the three-judge panel that ruled on Oct. 7 was “not done through a neutral process but rather was done in order to influence the outcome in favor of the plaintiffs.”

Coalition President Todd Larkin said last week the group, which got the ban on same-sex marriage on the ballot and approved by voters in 2002, would continue to fight the ruling.

Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Ronald Murray and Marsha Berzon served on the panel that ruled unanimously to overturn the bans on same-sex marriage in Nevada and Idaho.

Nevada clerks began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Thursday when the decision took effect.

Pahrump Valley Times reporter Selwyn Harris contributed to this report.

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