Starting at 9 a.m. Mountain time this morning, the five justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court heard opening arguments regarding the status of marriage equality in the state. Albuquerque's KOAT is streaming the hearings live here.
Eight of New Mexico's 33 counties have been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples since a Doña Ana County clerk began marrying those couples in mid-August, saying he didn't believe the state's marriage statutes expressly prohibited marriage equality, and that it was unconstitutional to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.
Later 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.
The case before the state's highest court today was filed on behalf of 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 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.
However, a group of antigay lawmakers, led by Republican state senator William Sharer, are planning a lawsuit in an attempt to stop same-sex marriages in the state. “It is up the New Mexico state legislature, with the consent of the governor of New Mexico, to make laws and for county clerks and district court judges to abide by them,” he told Albuquerque's ABC affiliate, adding that clerks and judges “do not make the laws. It is inexplicable how a district court just today discovered a new definition of marriage in our laws, when our marriage law has not been changed in over a century.”
The Court is not expected to rule immediately after Wednesday's hearings, according to the Associated Press.
Watch today's hearing live at KOAT.