New Mexico counties grow to three

Timothy Kincaid

August 26th, 2013

The number of New Mexico counties offering marriage equality has grown to three. (Star Tribune)

An Albuquerque judge on Monday ordered the clerk of New Mexico’s most populous county to join two other counties in the state in issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples.

State District Judge Alan Malott ruled that New Mexico’s constitution prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

(The ruling covered both Santa Fe County and Bernalillo County, home of Albuquerque. However Santa Fe has been complying with a separate judicial ruling requiring equality since Friday).

Predictably, Sen. Bill Sharer, who is leading a group of GOP lawmakers to fight the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was furious. (koat)

“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. They 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,” Sharer said in a statement.

But there’s more than a little irony in Sharer’s statement. Despite what he pretends, the New Mexico State Legislature has no law requiring that clerks discriminate against same-sex couples. There is no “new definition”. The marriage law in New Mexico is not defined to require a man and a woman.

It is true that until fairly recently no one in New Mexico fathomed same-sex couples marrying. But what do you do when an unexpected situation seeks to avail itself of civil law?

Sharer seems to hold an opinion about the role of government that flies in the face of his party’s rhetoric. While most Republicans would claim to believe that freedom is held by the people and that if ‘there ain’t no law against it’ then citizens are free to pursue happiness as they wish. Sharer, on the other hand, seems to believe that the government holds all rights and doles out freedoms according to its whim. He seems to be claiming that unless he and his fellow legislators specifically say you can do something, then it’s against the law.

UPDATE: Doña Ana, Sante Fe, and Bernalillo Counties are the states three most populated. Between them, nearly half of the state’s residents live in a county in which equality is being honored.


August 27th, 2013

Actually, Sharer’s wrong on all counts. New Mexico’s law was revised in 1973 to make it gender-neutral. And of course, one of the duties of the courts is judicial review.

But when has flaming ignorance ever stopped a politician?


August 27th, 2013

So presumably, conservatives in the NM legislature will attempt to pass a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Do we know what the chances are of them succeeding?


August 27th, 2013

Not only do these three counties comprise almost half of the state’s population, but in New Mexico if you have a marriage license from one county you may use it state-wide. Hence, New Mexico has effectively achieve marriage equality. It is the 14th state!

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