US: New Mexico Supreme Court agrees to take on equal marriage case

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Supreme Court in the US state of New Mexico has agreed to decide whether equal marriage should be legal across the state, after several counties began recently issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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.

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. Several counties since began issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples.

Since, all 33 counties filed to ask the Supreme Court to rule to give clarification on equal marriage.

All five of the Supreme Court Justices in the state agreed that they should review the case. None commented. The justices had previously declined to intervene on the issue, saying lower courts should rule on lawsuits in individual counties.

If New Mexico allows equal marriage once and for all, the state would join 13 others in the US, and the District of Columbia, in legally recognising equal marriage.

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

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, representing plaintiffs in the Bernalillo County case, said gay rights advocates are hoping that Friday’s move “will lead to a speedy decision establishing the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in New Mexico.”

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.”