Activists hoping for marriage equality in New Mexico got a boost Tuesday as three prominent statewide organizations came forward and endorsed their cause.
The New Mexico Pediatric Society, the New Mexico Psychological Association, and the New Mexico chapter of the National Association of Social Workers said they believe marriage equality would improve the lives of children and families in the southwestern state.
"Granting marriage equality is the right thing to do for New Mexico's children and will strengthen and protect families who have lacked legal recognition for too long," said Alexandra Cvijanovich, president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society. "As pediatricians, we see how supportive parents -- whether gay or straight -- positively impact the development of their children. And there is no question that when their parents can marry, children are more protected legally and socially."
Legalizing same-sex marriage in New Mexico would yield $15.6 million in new spending and benefit nearly 2,000 children being raised by same-sex parents, according to new information from the Williams Institute.
Current law in New Mexico does not explicitly prohibit or allow marriage for same-sex couples, but there are laws on the books preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. New Mexico does have adoption equality and permits joint and second-parent adoptions for same-sex couples. It also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The effort to legalize same-sex marriage has now shifted to New Mexico after recent victories in Illinois and Hawaii. In late October, New Mexico's Supreme Court heard arguments about whether to legalize such marriages. Several counties in the state have already begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Advocates for marriage equality are hoping the new endorsements bolster their cause with the court and legislature.
"This is a very powerful group of endorsements," said former lieutenant governor Diane Denish. "We know that marriage strengthens and supports families at all levels, and we're hopeful that our state's highest court will confirm that loving same-sex couples can no longer be denied access to marriage."
According to the Williams Institute, New Mexico has the highest proportion of Latino/a same-sex couples among households. The state also has an estimated 1,030 same-sex couples raising nearly 2,000 children, meaning a ruling for marriage equality would affect not just couples but entire families.
"The future of our society is entirely dependent on the quality of protective environments families offer our children today," said Patrick Tyrrell of the New Mexico chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. "Marriage equality helps ensure all New Mexican children receive this essential support and care."
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