The ruling was handed down Thursday, capping off a whirlwhind few months that catapulted New Mexico into the national discussion on same-sex marriage. This makes New Mexico the 17th state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.
“Bbarring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” the ruling states.
The ruling denied an argument that same-sex marriage would be detrimental to children and said that saying they could not procreate is not a valid argument.
“Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying,” the ruling states.
The full ruling is available below.
Advocates on who had been fighting for the legal recognition of same-sex marriage hailed the ruling.
“This truly is a historic and joyful day for New Mexico. As a state, we have always strived to treat all families with dignity and respect, and today’s decision allowing loving, committed same sex couples to marry continues that tradition. The more than 1000 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico can now rest certain knowing their marriages will be recognized and respected by our state,” American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives said.
National Center for Lesbian Right Shannon Minter said, “Today’s decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court is a powerful affirmation that same-sex couples are equal members of New Mexico’s diverse culture and must be given the same legal protections and respect as other families. With this ruling, New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and at least eight Native American tribes that permit same-sex couples to marry. This is an important day, not only for New Mexico, but for the entire country.”
The ACLU-NM and NCLR were both among the groups that brought the case to the courts for same-sex couples.
This post will be updated as more reaction comes in.
New Mexico had an odd path the Supreme Court hearing; a county clerk in Doña Ana County Clerk decided to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ellins, an attorney, decided that state law did not prohibit him from doing so.
Elsewhere, a separate legal battle was going on (ultimately the one that the Supreme Court ruled on). This led a state District Court judge to order the Santa Fe county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This set off a chain of events that included a similar ruling in Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county, and five more counties to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Meanwhile, other county clerks refused to do so and asked the state Supreme Court to rule on the issue. Republican state legislators also opposed same-sex marriage legally. The lawyers expected a quick ruling by the court — and they were right. Two months is a relatively quick turnaround for such a massive ruling.
The Supreme Court hearing in October was the first to be webcast — and was done in both video and audio-only formats.