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.



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."