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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Mexico:

2013-SEP: Briefs, pro and con,
filed before the State Supreme Court.
Relatively little opposition to SSM in NM.

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Discussion of his item is continued from the previous essay

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2013-SEP-23: Pro-marriage equality groups file briefs with state Supreme Court:

A joint brief was filed with the New Mexico Supreme Court by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM), the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Browne APC, and other attorneys in the state. The brief supports:

  • The right of loving, committed same-sex couples to enjoy marriage equality in the state, and

  • The state recognizing the validity of marriages by same-sex couples who have obtained marriage licenses recently in certain counties in the state, and

  • The state recognizing the validity of legal marriages of same-sex couples which have been solemnized out-of-state.

Their brief included, in part, a rather powerful statement that highlights the main problems related to marriage inequality:

"Without access to marriage, same-sex couples in New Mexico cannot enter into an officially recognized and protected family relationship, leaving them with no way to assume full responsibility for one another and no meaningful protection against being treated as legal strangers by third parties and the state." 1

Not mentioned in this statement is the fact that the disadvantages of marriage inequality extends beyond the same-sex couple to include their children.

Laura Schauer Ives, the Legal Director of ACLU-NM said:

"Every New Mexico court that has considered our claims has agreed that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage to loving, committed same-sex couples. We are hopeful that the New Mexico Supreme Court will agree that same-sex couples in our communities deserve full respect and recognition of their relationships, and issue a writ to resolve all claims on constitutional grounds."

Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the national ACLU's Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, said:

"In recent years we have seen an astounding wave of support for the freedom to marry nationwide. It is time for New Mexico to join the growing list of states that recognize marriage equality for all loving and committed couples."

As of 2013-OCT-21, in North America, same-sex couples can marry in the District of Columbia and 14 states, along with all 10 provinces and 3 territories in Canada, and two states in Mexico. Activity is currently underway in many other U.S. states, notably Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, and Pennsylvania as well as other countries to attain marriage equality.

Shannon Minter, Legal Director of the NCLR said:

"We agree with the 33 county clerks who say New Mexico families need certainty. New Mexico lacks a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can marry. The more than 1,000 same-sex couples who have legally married in New Mexico over the past several weeks need to know that their marriages are valid and respected." 2

Only a ruling in favor of marriage equality by the New Mexico Supreme Court can give such a binding ruling.

Sixteen law professors from the University of New Mexico filed a brief stating that:

"The limitation imposed on same-sex couples seeking to exercise their right to marry discriminates against members of a group with a history of marginalization and exclusion." 3

In addition to these joint amicus curiae briefs, several other briefs were filed in favor of marriage equality by:

  • The American Psychological Association (APA), and

  • Why Marriage Matters New Mexico. 2 This is: "... a grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in New Mexico." 4

Lawyers for Geraldine Salazar, the clerk for Santa Fe County, wrote in their brief:

"The validity of these marriages [recently solemnized in New Mexico] has not been definitively established; it is inarguably in the public interest to settle this matter now so these persons can move forward confident in their status as married couples." 1

New Mexico's Attorney General, Gary King, said in a statement submitted on his behalf:

"New Mexico's guarantee of equal protection to its citizens demands that same sex couples be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the same way and to the same extent as other New Mexico citizens." 3

A lawyer filed a brief on behalf of Lynn Ellins, the clerk of Dona Ana County, who -- in August -- was the first clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It mentioned that the state's Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by businesses and others. The brief said:

"This court now has the opportunity to establish marital equality in New Mexico, and lay a cornerstone of its legacy in the history of redressing discrimination based on sexual orientation." 3

Oral arguments were scheduled by the court for OCT-23. Two large overflow rooms were reserved to handle the crowd that was expected to want to observe the court proceedings.

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2013-SEP-23: Some Republican legislators file brief against marriage equality:

Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian legal defense group, filed an amici curia brief on behalf of almost two dozen current and former Republican legislators. They based their argument on New Mexico marriage laws, some of which contain a marriage license application that has columns labeled for male and female applicants. In addition, some use gender specific terms -- "husband" and "wife" -- to refer to spouses. They assert that the state Constitution's and the U.S. Constitution's guarantees against discrimination and in favor of equal protection to all persons do not apply to same-sex couples seeking marriage.

Their brief states: that:

"The judiciary should exercise caution when asked to divine fundamental and important constitutional rights not expressly provided in the Constitution's text. 3

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2013-SEP: In comparison to 2004, there been relatively little opposition to same-sex marriage in New Mexico:

Back in 2004, there was an immediate and heated negative response when a single county clerk started to distribute marriage licenses to what would grow to become fewer than 70 same-sex couples. But, during 2013, there was a much less criticism by social and religious conservatives in New Mexico even as eight counties distributed -- as of late September -- over 1,000 licenses.

In 2013-AUG, Lynn Ellins, the clerk of Dona Ana County, issued the first marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He later said:

"I have gotten some fairly nasty religious-related telephone message. But generally speaking, I am surprised by the relatively muted response from those who clearly disagree." 5

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Dan Boyd, "Factions line up for fight over same-sex marriage in N.M.," Albuquerque Journal, 2013-SEP-24, at: http://www.abqjournal.com/
  2. "Civil Rights Groups to NM Supreme Court: Grant Same-Sex Couples the Freedom to Marry," Rainbow Times, 2013-SEP-24, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  3. Barry Massey, "Lawmakers oppose gay marriage, file NM court brief," Associated Press, 2013-SEP-23, at: http://www.sfgate.com/
  4. "About us," Why Marriage Matters New Mexico, at: http://www.whymarriagemattersnewmexico.org/
  5. Jeri Clausing, "Gay Marriage In New Mexico Stirs Little Public Outcry," Huffington Post, 2013-SEP-11, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-SEP-24
Latest update: 2013--OCT-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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