By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 24 2013 1:04 PM ET
Advocates who are eager to make New Mexico the 15th state to fully embrace marriage equality got their day in court on Wednesday, when the five justices on the state's Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides in the ongoing marriage equality debate.
New Mexico's laws neither forbid nor permit same-sex marriage, and since August, eight of the state's 33 counties have married more than 900 same-sex couples, according to Reuters. Several county clerks, pro-LGBT activist groups, and lawmakers have asked the Supreme Court to provide clarification on the vague state law.
Attorney Maureen Sanders, who is representing the six same-sex couples who initially filed the suit, argued that it was unconstitutional to deny gay and lesbian New Mexicans the right to marry their partner. Sanders also countered the opposition's argument that marriage is intended primarily as a vehicle for procreation, a worn-out and tired trope repeatedly offered as legal justification for discrimination by those who oppose marriage equality. Sanders said that marriage is "a relationship between two individuals, whether or not they want to have children," reports the The New Civil Rights Movement. Sanders also pointed out that there is no "litmus test" for procreation, and asking couples before they're allowed to marry if they will have children is not only unprecedented but would violate that couple's right to privacy.
James Campbell, an attorney with the antigay Alliance Defending Freedom, represented the group of Republican lawmakers opposing marriage equality in the state. Campbell reportedly cited the flawed and debunked parenting study from Mark Regnerus to claim that children are healthiest when raised by a mother and father, according to The New Civil Rights Movement. The widely discredited study, however, only compared single gay and lesbian parents with married heterosexual couples raising children, scientifically invalidating the results Regnerus claimed to uncover. A wealth of research and independent, peer-reviewed studies have determined that children raised by committed same-sex couples are every bit as healthy, social, and well-adjusted as those children raised by married opposite-sex couples.
The five justices on the court were ready with numerous probing questions for both attorneys, asking about whether other states have similarly vague marriage statutes, if the question before the court was even in the right venue, and whether or not the issue is a religious question that should be settled outside the courtroom. The Supreme Court is not expected to rule immediately, though some observers speculate a decision could come down in the next few weeks.
Watch the report on the hearing from Albuquerque's KQRE below.