New Mexico

D.C. Agency Is Sorry Its Staff Didn't Know New Mexico Is a State

For once, a government agency's gaffe didn't do any real harm.

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Wikipedia

In a rarity, a government agency's gaffe didn't do any lasting harm. But it sure made for a funny story.

Earlier this month, Gavin and Marina Clarkson were trying to apply for a marriage license in D.C., where Marina lives. But they ran into trouble when several employees forgot (or maybe didn't know in the first place) that New Mexico is a state, not a foreign country.

"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?'" Gavin posted to Facebook on November 20. "They went back to a supervisor to check if New Mexico was a state … TWICE!"

Gavin tells the Las Cruces Sun-News the staffers eventually admitted that New Mexico is a state and accepted his driver's license. But he was still a bit surprised. "All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing," he tells the newspaper.

None of this was caught on video, but I like to imagine the staff's realization went something like this:

Lest readers think the Clarksons are making the whole thing up, a spokesperson for the D.C. court system confirmed that it happened. "We understand that a clerk in our Marriage Bureau made a mistake regarding New Mexico's 106-year history as a state," Leah H. Gurowitz, director of media and public relations for D.C. Courts, tells the News-Sun. "We very much regret the error and the slight delay it caused a New Mexico resident in applying for a DC marriage license."

The Hill notes that this is not the first time something like this has happened. According to a December 2017 letter from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, some agents had trouble recognizing D.C. IDs that say "District of Columbia" rather than "Washington, D.C."

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  1. alternate Simpsons: incredulous Burns “there’s a NEW Mexico?”

    1. alt, alt(though not as on point) You are Gay!

      1. i send that one out every time I see Luis Suarez and all his teeth

        1. Isn’t he the reason Chiellini is now twice shy?

      1. that line was how we crossed Missouri off the list of “where do they live?”

    2. At least New Mexico is named after a real country. What the fuck is Arizona?

      1. An arid zone.

        1. A really white and wrinkly arid zone that can support
          the vegetation that migrates south in the winter.

          1. Supposedly, when the Congressman from the then-new state or Arizona was telling of the glories of his state, he said: “All we need is water and plenty of good people.”

            Another Congressman muttered, “that’s all Hell needs.”

            1. Hmm…I just found a source attributing that joke to an unnamed friend of Horace Greeley, so maybe my story is not 100% accurate.

  2. For once, a government agency’s gaffe didn’t do any real harm.

    That’s because for decades a surprising percentage of Americans don’t realize it’s a state. As someone who was born and raised there, it was a long, ongoing source of humor and frustration to the local media.

    1. Even your license plates go out of the way to say “New Mexico, USA”

      Lol.

    2. Maybe if they didn’t call themselves los medios de comunicaci?n locales, people wouldn’t get confused.

      Just an idea.

  3. So the TSA has the intelligence of the DC license bureau?

    Not sure which is sadder – – – –

    1. Actually, the TSA agent knew perfectly well what the District of Columbia stood for. He just hated it as much as the rest of us do.

      1. DC was named in honor of some Italian guy sailing for Spain who never set foot in any of the 57 united States.

  4. I’m waiting for the Rev. to come along and tell us how a hillbilly uneducated rube from fly-over country managed to get a job in the District of Columbia marriage license bureau? Or,maybe, there are just as many unsophisticated and grade school dropout types in Democratic patronage jobs as there supposedly are in the Trump organization?

  5. Hopefully they remember to count their votes in the next presidential election

      1. Remember: Vote once, count twice.

        1. I am seeing double. Four ballots!

        2. It really doesn’t matter. The Democrat will always win. And the electoral college guarantees that stuffed ballot boxes in D.C. don’t affect the national outcome.

  6. Ah, the DC government-where having an IQ that registers at all disqualifies you from the job.

  7. “But they ran into trouble when several employees forgot (or maybe didn’t know in the first place) that New Mexico is a state, not a foreign country.”

    Once you think of DC as a foreign country, this makes perfect sense.

  8. Weren’t there stories before about government employees in DC who thought there were 57 states and 12 Articles in the Constitution? Then there were the ones who thought firing a shotgun through a door was responsible gun safety and that Guam might get so heavy it would tip over and that high cheekbones were a sure sign of Cherokee heritage. And all of them were under the delusion that they were the smartest person in the room no matter which room they were in.

    1. They meant the smartest people in The Room, the movie.

  9. the staffers eventually admitted that New Mexico is a state and accepted his driver’s license.

    And he eventually accepted their apologies and resignations, right? RIGHT?!

    1. And just imagine if they’d tried to pay the fee with two-dollar bills!

  10. Had they been from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia however …

    1. always on my mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi-mi mind.

  11. When I lived in Hawaii one of the local papers would run a regular column entitled ‘Statehood Recognition Award’, for companies that inquired about customs forms to ship from California or Texas, and similar goofs.

    1. I occasionally indulge the fantasy that, as the Blue Line train moves from Foggy Bottom to Rosslyn, the operator will come on the PA and announce: “Next stop: Rosslyn. First station stop in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Please have your passports ready for inspection.”

    2. They probably thought because of the distance from mainland but I have to agree, that is just as stupid.

  12. TSA smurfs have also been known to demand passports from people who have New Mexico licenses.

    1. If TSA really employed smurfs, I would be opting out all the time.

      1. What color does a smurf turn when you choke it?

  13. TSA smurfs have also been known to demand passports from people who have New Mexico licenses.

  14. Its okay. Obama didnt know how many states there are.

    1. Nor did he care, since he deemed himself king over them all, however many there may be.

  15. One might try asking such yokels whether they’ve ever heard of York or Hampshire.

  16. I see now why Democrats are saying increasing the benefits of federal employees is their number one task.

    1. These are DC city employees.

  17. That’s not really surprising. New Mexico magazine has a regular column called “One of our fifty is missing!” and every month it has three or four stories like this. Though government agencies do represent a fair percentage of the people confused by the state.

    1. One of the recent entries was from New Mexico’s Tourism Department (which publishes the magazine)?

  18. I remember someone back before the Los Angles Olympics telling the story that the ticket office refused to sell her tickets because she lived in New Mexico and had to “go to the foreign sales office to buy those.”

  19. Now that they’ve brought it to our attention, how much longer do they feel they can use the ‘New’ moniker? After 106 years it’s a bit stale. Let’s open up the polls for suggestions. I’m for replacing ‘New’ with ‘Our Little’.

  20. To double down on the farce, just how many of those people in that office think various Canadian cities are in the USA?

    There is more than one way to be provincial.

  21. As a resident of New Mexico, this is completely believable.

  22. Isn’t this the same D.C. government whose employees got a guy fired because they thought that “niggardly” was a racial epithet?

  23. These public servants(?) are the product of modern education which don’t teach much but do teach group think and memorization. That memorization is is the way they can pass the exit tests.

  24. Where can I get some Hawaiian money for my vacation?

  25. A while back I received a letter from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. My address, in British Columbia, was correct save for the fact that in place of Canada the last line said “United Kingdom”!

  26. Affirmative action?

    1. For incompetents.

  27. I read this story on another site and had to laugh. It only demonstrates how so many people in large cities in the NE and west coast have no knowlege of the world outside of their bubble. I still remember a friend in school who was from Phildelphia that when his parents said they were moving to Texas he expected everyone to be riding a horse and carrying a gun. This was in the mid 1980s!!!!

  28. I read this story on another site and had to laugh. It only demonstrates how so many people in large cities in the NE and west coast have no knowlege of the world outside of their bubble. I still remember a friend in school who was from Phildelphia that when his parents said they were moving to Texas he expected everyone to be riding a horse and carrying a gun. This was in the mid 1980s!!!!

  29. I read this story on another site and had to laugh. It only demonstrates how so many people in large cities in the NE and west coast have no knowlege of the world outside of their bubble. I still remember a friend in school who was from Phildelphia that when his parents said they were moving to Texas he expected everyone to be riding a horse and carrying a gun. This was in the mid 1980s!!!!

  30. What do you expect when the Dems have controlled education for decades?

  31. I wonder if the clerks were Democrats? LMAO! KIDDING! I think we ALL know they were…ALL of them! How can NONE of THREE clerks (including a supervisor) be so freaking ignorant? Don’t worry…I’m sure that their public school indoctrination took root, even if their education didn’t.

  32. They produced them and aired them for Democrats, Republicans, and Greens, in advance of the primary election.

    But they had invited no Libertarians.

    I called the DC TV staffer responsible. “Libraryatarians? Who?” He continued “We invited everyone; we got all the names from the Board of Elections.” Beginning to sound like he thought I was crazy, he asked “What day is your primary?” When I told him it was the same day as all the primaries, he said “I will check this and get back to you.” Before I could do anything more than think about what lawyers to call, he called back, apologetic but with no explanation, and offered one or two brief slots in the next few days where, if any of the several LP candidates could manage to leave work on a weekday with almost no advance notice, he would record their PSAs.

    I have a guess as to what happened. The Board of Elections maintains a publicly accessible, on line, PDF with all the candidates’ names, party affiliations, phone numbers, campaign managers, addresses, and office sought. It’s in order of their party’s seniority on the ballot, so the first few pages are Democrats, then a page of GOP, then a page of Greens, last a page of the newbies, the Libertarians.

    I suspect someone was tasked with printing this out, and when they printer ran out of paper in the middle of the Green Party page, they thought they had everything.

    1. In 2014, two years after the DC Libertarian Party earned ballot status – so you could register as a Libertarian and it could have primaries – a Green Party candidate called me to ask where our Public Service Announcements were.

      DC had two government owned cable channels, and they produce PSAs for all ballot qualified candidates.

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