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Bernalillo County issues first same-sex marriage licenses

The first couple to get a same-sex marriage license in Bernalillo County. - Nikki Ibarra, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On Monday morning, Bernalillo County becomes the third county in New Mexico to allow same-sex marriage.

At 8 a.m., the county clerk will begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. This, after a judge ruled in district court in Albuquerque that the state constitution allows marriage equality and forbids discrimination.

“I think the judge today made very clear that the statute was unconstitutional,” Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Tolouse said. “It’s been a personal struggle, but I’m gratified to have clarity and to be able to move forward.”

Bernalillo County printed around 1,000 new marriage licenses in anticipation of the ruling on Sunday. The new certificates read, “Spouse and Spouse” instead of “Bride and Groom."

Advocacy groups ProgressNow NM and Equality NM will host same-sex wedding ceremonies on Civic Plaza for newly licensed couples starting at noon.

Judge to rule whether or not NM recognizes same-sex marriages

The Bernalillo County clerk has printed more than a thousand marriage licenses. This, in case a judge rules Monday that the state of New Mexico recognizes same-sex marriages.

If New Mexico recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples, the state would have to extend the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

On Monday afternoon, a judge is expected to rule if the state recognizes the marriage of Angelique Neuman and Jen Roper. KOB Eyewitness News 4 brought you their story last week. They were married Friday in Santa Fe County.

Jen has life-threatening brain cancer and wanted to make sure her partner, Angelique, and their three children had benefits if she were to pass away.

KOB spoke to their attorney, Maureen Sanders, who said Monday is a big day for them.

Retired college official named to NM labor board

Retired college official named to NM labor board

Governor Susana Martinez has appointed James Shaffer of Los Lunas, to the Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

Shaffer, who is a retired university official from New Mexico Tech, will enforce New Mexico's collective bargaining law for government workers. He will serve in the board until July 1, 2015, succeeding Wayne Bingham of Albuquerque.

Under New Mexico law, the governor appoints one board member suggested by labor, one suggested by public employers, Shaffer had received recommendation from public employers, and another recommended by the other two.  None of the appointees require Senate confirmation.

Labor unions lost a legal fight last year to remove a retired Clovis police chief appointed by Martinez as the board's labor member.



Shipping NM chile to CA? You'd better label it, Ag Department warns

LAS CRUCES -- New Mexicans feeling generous enough to share their fresh New Mexico chile peppers with friends and family are being advised on how to label the packages they intend to mail to California in order to ensure prompt delivery.

Every year, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture receives notifications that shipments of fresh chile have been delayed due to improperly labeled packages. 

California Department of Food and Agriculture staff routinely inspect shipments at the post office, FedEx stores, UPS stores and the like in order to protect against plant pests and disease that could harm the state's agricultural sector.  Although fresh New Mexico chile peppers are not considered such a threat, packages that aren't properly labeled are subject to delays if inspectors have to open them to determine their contents.

Driver's licenses for immigrants declining in NM

SANTA FE (AP) -- As more states prepare to offer driving privileges to immigrants who illegally entered the U.S., heavily Hispanic New Mexico appears headed in the other direction.
An Associated Press review of state records shows New Mexico is issuing fewer driver's licenses to them, with the number of first-time licenses dropping 21 percent during the first half of this year.
The reason for the abrupt decline remains unclear.
Officials in Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration say there's been no recent crackdown by the Motor Vehicle Division and the requirements for immigrants to obtain a license haven't changed, although the governor has fought unsuccessfully for three years to scrap the license policy.
An immigrant rights advocate suggests New Mexico's weak economy may be a cause.

Mayoral candidate calls for special prosecutor in Han case

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) -- Albuquerque mayoral candidate Pete Dinelli is calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor and a grand jury investigation of the death of prominent civil rights attorney Mary Han.
The call by Dinelli and Han's family comes after Attorney General Gary King last week issued a scathing critique of the Albuquerque Police Department's handling of the case.
Family and friends have questioned the handling of Han's 2010 death ever since Albuquerque police quickly ruled it a suicide.
Han was a vocal adversary of the Police Department, and her family believes officers failed to look at other explanations.
Han was found dead in the driver's seat of her BMW inside her garage.

APS needs teachers

APS needs teachers

Albuquerque Public Schools is looking to hire more education professionals to help with the recently started school year.

The district says it needs about 90 full and part-time staff members, including gifted teachers in almost every grade, bilingual teachers as well as school counselors, coaches and educational assistants.

Johanna King, an APS representative says more people are looking for regular teaching jobs.

“We don’t necessarily have a shortage, it’s just these positions are harder to fill. Special Education for example, is challenging,” says King.

According to the district, they have about 45 educational assistant openings. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />APS is also looking for assistant coaches at the middle and high school level.