It’s a happy day here in the State of Enchantment — New Mexico — unless one is a homophobe or religious fundamentalist. In a long-anticipated New Mexico State Supreme Court ruling, the state’s highest court decided unanimously that gay and lesbian couples have a right to civil marriage.
The ruling reportedly goes into effect immediately — making the marriages of gay couples legal statewide.
Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring 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.
Some of you may remember how this all began some months ago, back in late August, when Doña Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins decided New Mexicans had waited long enough and began issuing licenses in defiance of currently accepted state practice.
This led to a flurry of cases where several other counties were ordered by the courts to issue same sex marriage licenses, resulting in nearly 60% of New Mexico’s population enjoying (possibly temporary) gay marriage rights.
Then, in response to an urgent plea on the part of all of New Mexico’s county clerks, in October the NM Supreme Court consented to hear a case asking for clarification: Does the state recognize same sex marriages or doesn’t it?
Today, December 19th 2013, we have our answer: Yes, it does. And the Justices further ruled that this is to take effect immediately in all 33 New Mexico Counties. Full text of the ruling is HERE.
And New Mexico becomes the 17th state in the United States to have full same sex marriage equality rights.