US: New Mexico counties appeal to have state Supreme Court rule on equal marriage

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The situation regarding equal marriage in New Mexico is becoming gradually more heated, as a group of counties have filed to ask the state’s Supreme Court to rule to give clarification on equal marriage.

State District Judge Alan Malott handed down a ruling last Monday, which stated that equal marriage should be made legal, as he ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriages is a form of sexual discrimination.

The New Mexico constitution does not expressively prohibit same-sex couples from marrying but no recognition of same-sex relationships previously existed within the state.

The Association of Counties and clerks filed the petition on Thursday with the New Mexico Supreme Court, It seeks clarity in the legal dispute over the ruling by Judge Malott, and whether county clerks should be issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples or not.

Several counties began immediately issuing the licences to same-sex couples, however many did not. Over 900 marriage licences have been issued to gay couples in the state, reports the Assocated Press.

The Supreme Court has already been asked to halt the issue of marriage licences until the justices have made a ruling.

It is unclear how the court might rule, and whether or not it will take on the case.

Republican lawmakers in the US state of New Mexico have said they are considering legal action over a judge’s decision to make a broad ruling that same-sex couples should not be excluded from being issue marriage certificates.

Governor Susana Martinez said that she believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the population of New Mexico, rather than courts or legislature.

The Democrats said that they believed that marriages from the certificates since the ruling will stand, and that they will fight legal action by GOP lawmakers.

The county clerk for Doña Ana County, Lynn Ellins, released a statement last Wednesday saying that New Mexico’s marriage laws were “gender neutral” and to ban same-sex couples from marrying violated the United States Constitution and he went onto say that “I see no reason to make committed couples in Dona Ana County wait another minute to marry.”