A New Mexico Man Had To ‘Prove’ New Mexico Is A State To A D.C. Marriage-License Clerk

The Land of Enchantment has been a state for 106 years now.

A map of New Mexico.
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The Land of Enchantment has been a state for 106 years now.

A New Mexico man found himself in the awkward position of having to prove to a marriage-license clerk that New Mexico is truly one of the 50 U.S. states and not, as the clerk apparently believed, a foreign country, USA Today is reporting.

New Mexico has been a state for well over a century now — 106 years, to be exact. But that news apparently hadn’t made it to an unnamed town clerk in an undisclosed Washington, D.C. office. Gavin Clarkson, of Las Cruces, had gone with his fiancee to apply for a marriage license, only to be stymied when the clerk failed to grasp that New Mexico is part of the U.S.

Clarkson, when asked for proof of citizenship, showed his New Mexico driver’s license, thinking that would be enough. It was not. Clarkson says that the clerk told him that he would need to provide a New Mexico passport. There is, of course, no such thing, as New Mexico is not a country — and New Mexico residents have United States passports.

If that wasn’t enough, Clarkson got nowhere when he asked to speak to a supervisor — he or she, too, failed to grasp that New Mexico is a state — who asked Clarkson to provide a New Mexico passport.

a sign welcoming drivers to new mexico
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Clarkson waxed prosaic about the whole thing in a Facebook post.

“You know you are from flyover country when you are applying for a marriage license, give them your New Mexico driver’s license, and they come back and say: ‘My supervisor says we cannot accept international driver’s licenses. Do you have a New Mexico passport?'”

As KOAT-TV (Albuquerque) reports, Clarkson’s fiancee, the now-Mrs. Clarkson, also got a kick out of the whole thing.

“Mrs. Clarkson thinks that the most hilarious part was when the clerk complemented [sic] me on my English.”

It took some doing, but eventually Clarkson was able to convince someone, somehow, that New Mexico is truly part of the U.S. But after about 20 minutes of explaining things, cooler heads prevailed — and Clarkson was issued his marriage license. He and his fiancee got married a while later.

“Everything else went fine, but it was a comical moment in the whole process.”

The staff at the marriage-license bureau has issued an apology, according to KSAT-TV (San Antonio).

“We understand that a clerk in our Marriage Bureau made a mistake regarding New Mexico’s 106-year history as a state. We very much regret the error and the slight delay it caused a New Mexico resident in applying for a DC marriage license.”