The City Council in Santa Fe, New Mexico, today adopted a resolution sponsored by Mayor David Coss that contends marriage equality is already legal in the state, and directs county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The resolution is not legally binding, but follows the mayor's March statement claiming that there is nothing in the New Mexico constitution that prohibits the state from recognizing marriages between two people of the same gender. The resolution was adopted by a 5-3 vote, according to a report from ProgressNow.
The resolution adopted today contains a legal opinion from city attorney Geno Zamora, confirming that New Mexico's marriage statutes are gender-neutral, and same-sex marriages are not expressly forbidden.
After news of the legal technicality broke in March, several gay and lesbian couples attempted to obtain marriage licenses, but were denied. ProgressNow reports that clerks cited a decade-old advisory opinion claiming the state's law was unclear on the legality of marriage for same-sex couples. The couples subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking equal marriage rights in the state.
"It's clear that New Mexicans stand steadfastly behind equality for all people and agree with the legal argument that New Mexico law already allows for marriage equality," said Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico.
To demonstrate that position, ProgressNow and other equality supporters have launched a petition in support of the Santa Fe resolution. The petition currently has more than 3,700 signatures.
New Mexico is the only state in the country that does not either explicitly recognize same-sex relationships through marriage or civil unions or ban recognition of same-sex relationships by statute or constitutional amendment, notes a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups representing the couples suing for the right to marry.