Attorney General Gary King issued an press release reminding people of a three-year old opinion that marriages between same-sex couples in states other than New Mexico should be represented by the states.
King was talking about specifically the recent same-sex marriages in Utah that are now on hold while waiting on a federal appeal.
King wrote the opinion three years ago (pdf) in response to a request by then-Rep. Al Park, D-Albuquerque.
“I strongly believe that when two people, including those outside our state borders and regardless of their gender, want all the rights and responsibilities of married couples, the law is clear that they are entitled to equal protection,” King said in a statement. “Nearly 1,400 marriages of same-sex couples were legally performed in Utah during December and January after those couples received marriage licenses from Utah authorities.”
King notes that Attorneys General in Maine and Delaware have already said that same-sex marriages performed in Utah should be recognized in their states.
In his opinion, King cited a section of New Mexico law that says, “[a]ll marriages celebrated beyond the limits of the state, which are valid according to the laws of the country wherein they were celebrated or contract, shall be likewise valid in this state, and shall have the same force as if they had been celebrated in accordance with the laws in force in the state.”
There is an exception for marriages if they violate a specific part of state law (for example, polygamy is not allowed under state law) — and New Mexico famously did not have any statute on the books related to same-sex marriage one way or another.
Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that county clerks in New Mexico must give marriage licenses to same-sex couples who request them. New Mexico became the 17th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriages.
The United States Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in the state 17 days after a federal judge had said the Utah law banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional a case pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver.