Thinking New Mexico is another country, marriage bureau clerk asks NM man for passport

Posted at 10:23 AM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 11:23:20-05

(RNN) - A bureaucrat with a shaky understanding of geography briefly hindered a couple applying a marriage license. The clerk didn’t believe the man was a U.S. citizen because he came from New Mexico.

Gavin Clarkson and his then-bride-to-be went to the District of Columbia Courts Marriage Bureau to apply for a marriage license on Nov. 20, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.

The clerk wouldn’t accept the New Mexico man’s driver’s license as valid identification, saying he would need to provide a passport.

“She thought New Mexico was a foreign country,” he told the Las Cruces Sun News. “All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing.”

When Clarkson objected, the clerk’s supervisor backed up the clerk’s insistence that the “foreign” man needed a passport.

Eventually, the clerk learned that New Mexico was indeed a state and no passport was needed.

Clarkson said before the confusion was cleared up, the clerk also complimented him on how well he spoke English.

The couple has since married without incident, and the license bureau apologized for the confusion.

Even though the state has Mexico in its name, New Mexico hasn’t been a part of Mexico since the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War.

New Mexico has been a state since 1912, the 47th state admitted into the union.

Clarkson, a recent candidate for New Mexico secretary of state, briefly served as deputy assistant secretary for policy and economic development at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He said he is also an enrolled member of the Choctaw nation.

Apparently, Clarkson’s experience isn’t unique. New Mexico Magazine chronicles people’s confusion about the state in a regular reader-submitted feature called “One of Our 50 is Missing.”

One person said when he visited Ireland it helped to mention “Breaking Bad,” which is set in Albuquerque.

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