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Half of New Mexico's Citizens Now Enjoy Marriage Equality

Half of New Mexico's Citizens Now Enjoy Marriage Equality

A New Mexico district judge has ordered Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples, reports Think Progress.

The ruling, which follows on the heels of the Doña Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins’s decision to begin providing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week and a different judge's order for Santa Fe County to do so, was handed down Monday by Judge Alan Malott. Malott determined that while New Mexico’s state code did implicitly prevent same-sex couples form obtaining marriage licenses, those prohibitions were in direct violation of the equal protection clauses in both the federal and state constitutions.

“There is no benefit to the parties or the public interest in having this matter progress through a lengthy path of litigation while basic constitutional rights are being compromised or denied on a daily basis,” Malott wrote.

While the ruling clears the way for any county in New Mexico to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the three that have already begun to do so — Santa Fe, Bernalillo, and Doña Ana — encompass nearly 50% of the state’s population.

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.”

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