LGBT Advocates File Briefs for New Mexico Marriage Equality

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com September 23 2013 7:10 PM ET

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the law firm of Sutin, Theyer and Browne APC formally filed legal briefs with the state supreme court today, responding to a request from 33 county clerks who asked the Supreme Court to determine whether New Mexico recognizes the freedom to marry statewide.  

On August 21, a clerk in Doña Ana County abruptly began issuing licenses to same-sex couples — though the decision was later challenged by Republican lawmakers, and county clerks throughout the state filed legal briefs seeking guidance from the state's highest court.  

Later that month, 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 agree with the 33 county clerks who say New Mexico families need certainty," said Shannon Minter, NCLR's legal director in a press release today. "New Mexico lacks a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can marry. The more than 1,000 same-sex couples who have legally married in New Mexico over the past several weeks need to know that their marriages are valid and respected."

Opening arguments in the lawsuit are scheduled to take place before the New Mexico Supreme Court on October 23.