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D.C. Marriage Clerk Thought New Mexico ID Was 'Foreign'

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 06, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"My supervisor and I have verified that New Mexico is a state."

Not exactly what you expect to hear from a marriage clerk. Perhaps from a middle schooler clowning around in a geography class, but not a civil servant in our nation's capital. But that's apparently what Gavin Clarkson was told after a back-and-forth with a D.C. Marriage Bureau clerk last month that included the clerk asking to see Clarkson's "New Mexico passport."


Is That Anywhere Near Old Mexico?

Clarkson and his now-wife Marina went to the D.C. bureau to request a marriage license on November 20. But when he first presented his New Mexico driver's license to the clerk on duty, she looked at it skeptically, saying "I'm sorry, my supervisor says we can't accept international driver's licenses." And after a brief consultation with her supervisor, she requested to see Clarkson's "New Mexico passport."

When Clarkson tried to explain that New Mexico was indeed part of the United States, she again went to speak with her supervisor. Upon returning, she confirmed to Clarkson, "'My supervisor and I have verified that New Mexico is a state."

"Basically, they went back and did a Google search," he told NBC Washington.

At one point, according to Clarkson, the clerk even complimented him on his English.

Double oof.

All the World, Right Here at Home

We understand that a clerk in our Marriage Bureau made a mistake regarding New Mexico's 106-year history as a state," Leah Gurowitz, spokeswoman for District of Columbia Courts, assured the public in a statement. "We very much regret the error and the slight delay it caused a New Mexico resident in applying for a DC marriage license." Clarkson did note that the clerk was embarrassed and apologetic once the matter of statehood was straightened out.

Not a great day for the D.C. Marriage Bureau, but the couple were able to get their paperwork sorted out and get married that same day.

Here's hoping, however, the clerk doesn't also ask for passports for engaged couples from Paris (Idaho), Rome (Georgia), or Cairo (Illinois).

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