I’ve lived in New Mexico — twice, actually — so this story is nothing new to me or anyone who’s lived there, but I thought it was interesting that it has become a somewhat national story.
A New Mexico man applying for a marriage license in Washington, D.C., this month had his state driver’s license rejected as a form of identification because a clerk and her supervisor believed New Mexico was a foreign country.
Gavin Clarkson, a Las Cruces, N.M., resident, said he was at the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau on Nov. 20 applying for a license to wed his then-fiancée when their nuptial plans hit a brief snag. The clerk told him he would need an international passport on the apparent belief that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
“She thought New Mexico was a foreign country,” he said of the clerk as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News. “All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing.”
Clarkson was a recent candidate for New Mexico secretary of state and is a member of the Choctaw Nation. He said he protested the clerk’s decision to her supervisor, who also failed to recognize New Mexico as a state.
“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?’ ” Clarkson tweeted.
This happens so often that New Mexico, the magazine put out by the state’s tourism office, has a regular feature, “One of Our 50 Is Missing,” regaling readers with tales of people in other places mistaking New Mexico for a foreign country. As a matter of record, it’s the fifth-largest state in area and it’s been a state since 1912, coming into the union before Arizona.
Just to make sure the word gets out, the state’s license plates confirm that the Land of Enchantment is one of ours.
However, given the state of education — don’t they teach geography any more? — and the fear of Others put into the mind by the foolish and the weak in this country, I’m pretty sure that the magazine and the Missing 50 will have plenty of stories to tell for a long time.