Gavin and Marina Clarkson
Published December 2, 2018
WASHINGTON — Gavin Clarkson (Choctaw), the former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Economic Development — Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of Interior, has experienced his share of crazy moments in Washington, D.C. However, he wasn’t expecting such a moment when he went apply for a marriage license last month at the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau.
The couple selected rings made of Navajo silver and turquoise.
On November 20, 2018, when he presented his state’s driver’s license from the State of New Mexico, the marriage bureau clerk advised Clarkson he would need a foreign passport because the did not think New Mexico was a state within the United States.
“She thought New Mexico was a foreign country,” Clarkson says of the clerk as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News. “All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing.”
Clarkson asked to see her supervisor, who at first sided with the clerk. Both of whom, apparently did recall their geography lessons. New Mexico is indeed part of the United States. It became a state on January 12, 1912.
A peristent Clarkson eventually convinced the clerk that the New Mexico driver’s license was sufficient identification.
District of Columbia Marriage Bureau admitted its clerk had made an error.
“We understand that a clerk in our Marriage Bureau made a mistake regarding New Mexico’s 106-year history as a state,” said Leah H. Gurowitz, director of media and public relations for D.C. Courts, in an email to the Sun-News. “We very much regret the error and the slight delay it caused a New Mexico resident in applying for a DC marriage license.”
Clarkson posted this message to his Facebook account:
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?” They went back to a supervisor to check if New Mexico was a state … TWICE!
Mrs. Clarkson thinks that the most hilarious part was when the clerk complimented me on my English. (For those that don’t know, Marina immigrated from Argentina in 1994 and became a US citizen fourteen years later).
“The clerk’s office also later confirmed that it would have been easier if I had used my Choctaw tribal ID instead of my New Mexico license. Go figure,” Clarkson says in a statement to Native News Online.
The couple was able to marry later in the day on November 20, 2018, on Clarkson’s birthday.