The New Mexico Supreme Court has set a date for a hearing to determine if the state's constitution permits same-sex couples to marry.
The state’s highest court agreed on Friday to hear oral arguments on October 23 from six same-sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, reports NBC. These couples will contend that the court should consider a request by the New Mexico Association of Counties to determine if the right to marry extends to gay and lesbian couples in New Mexico.
Since last month, several county clerks have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New Mexico, including a clerk from Doña Ana County that was challenged by Republican lawmakers.
In August, a district judge in Santa Fe ruled that the state’s constitution did not preclude same-sex couples from marrying. A district judge in Bernalillo County affirmed this ruling, agreeing that denying marriage equality violates key provisions in the state’s constitution on equality and gender-based discrimination.
"We welcome the Supreme Court’s order and hope that it will lead to a speedy decision establishing the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in New Mexico," said Peter Simonson, the executive director of the ACLUof New Mexico. "Now is the time for New Mexico to treat same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect as all other couples and fully respect their lifelong commitments to each other and their families."
If the New Mexico Supreme Court decides to extend the right to marry to same-sex couples, the state will join the District of Columbia and 13 other states that have legalized marriage equality in the United States.