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New Mexico Supremes rule for marriage equality

Timothy Kincaid

December 19th, 2013

The Supreme Court of New Mexico has ruled on the decision of some county clerks to offer marriage licenses: (KOB)

The state Supreme Court declared state marriage laws unconstitutional and upheld New Mexico county clerks’ decisions to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The state Supreme Court will now define “civil marriage” as the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.

We’ll bring you more, as more comes in.

UPDATE: From the Ruling

Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.

UPDATE 2 More:

Because same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter “LGBT”) are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional. Accordingly, New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of marriage laws, unless the proponents of the legislation—the opponents of same-gender marriage—prove that the discrimination caused by the legislation is “substantially related to an important government interest.”

And here we find that in New Mexico, discrimination against gay people must be held to “intermediate scrutiny”, a higher level that generally assumes that discrimination against gay people is at least somewhat likely to be unconstitutional.

I don’t yet see an effective date, so I assume this is law immediately.

The Ruling was unanimous.


It’s been a good year for marriage. In 2013, the number doubled from 8 states plus the District of Columbia to the new total: 17 states plus DC.



December 19th, 2013 | LINK

Thanks, Timothy, for letting us know and keeping us informed.

December 19th, 2013 | LINK

…and may yet reach 18 by the end of the year, at least for the dead. (Admittedly, they need it least, but still.)

Ben In Oakland
December 19th, 2013 | LINK

“Although this question arouses sincerely-felt religious beliefs both in favor of and against same-gender marriages, our analysis does not and cannot depend on religious doctrine without violating the Constitution.”

Was this not the best statement in the whole decision?

December 19th, 2013 | LINK

Another resounding victory for NOM. (giggle)

Richard Rush
December 19th, 2013 | LINK

This court decision couldn’t have come at a better time of the year. All organizations that rely on donations ratchet up their money begging campaigns during the year-end holidays when people are feeling especially generous. And now, after the seventeenth state has just been added to the marriage equality tally, the anti-gay outfits are looking more like the hopeless money pits that they are.

December 19th, 2013 | LINK

“Because same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter “LGBT”) are a discrete group…”

I don’t think that it is correct, factually speaking, to include bisexuals and transgenders in the same group as gays and lesbians, but if the court insists, I’ll graciously concede the point.

Anyway, congratulations, New Mexico!

December 19th, 2013 | LINK

A unanimous decision is especially emphatic.

December 20th, 2013 | LINK

FYoung, a bisexual person in a same-sex relationship is still bisexual, so it would not be inaccurate to include them as is done here. As for transgender individuals, it depends on NM’s laws. If NM is very restrictive about the conditions under which they will recognize a transgender person’s gender/sex, then they might also benefit from more inclusive marriage laws. While much work needs to be done to improve the world for transgender people, laws recognizing same-sex marriages could benefit opposite sex couples of whom one is transgender, but does not have appropriate legal recognitions.

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