New Mexico Supreme Court hears marriage equality case

Posted on 24 Oct 2013 at 9:43am

NMJudiciaryThe New Mexico Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday regarding marriage equality in the state.

One justice asked attorneys why people shouldn’t be able to marry whomever they wanted. When the attorney representing Republican legislators brought up the state’s interest in procreation, another justice pointed out that married couples get to file a joint state income tax whether or not they have children.

Eight counties in New Mexico issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. That began in August when Dona Ana County County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his reading of the state’s constitution didn’t prevent it. Several other county clerks agreed and also began issuing licenses.

Over the next month, several district judges in other counties ordered county clerks in their jurisdictions to begin issuing licenses. In Bernalillo County, a judge ruled that denying marriage equality violated the state constitution’s protections based on equality and gender discrimination.

The state attorney general said he would not oppose marriage equality in counties that opted to issue licenses.

A group of Republican lawmakers opposed to marriage equality said they planned to file a lawsuit to stop marriage equality, but haven’t. One legislator said it was up to the Legislature to make laws with the consent of the governor and that clerks and judges do not make the law.

The suit heard by the Supreme Court was filed by the ACLU on behalf of same-sex couples to extend marriage equality throughout the state.

The court did not issue a stay on marriage equality until it rules. So far, 1,466 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples and those remain valid.

The court has no deadline to issue its ruling.

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