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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Mexico:

2013-OCT: The New Mexico Supreme Court
hearing of Griego v. Oliver (Cont'd) about SSM.

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This discussion is continued from the previous essay

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2013- OCT: State Supreme Court holds hearing for Griego v. Oliver lawsuit (Cont'd):

Jim Campbell, the Alliance Defending Freedom's Legal Counsel -- a conservative Christian legal defense group -- said:

"The union between one man and one woman — marriage — is timeless, universal and special. The legislators who enacted New Mexico’s marriage laws unquestionably understood marriage to be the union of a man and a woman. Nothing in New Mexico’s Constitution requires the state to change this understanding of marriage." 1

Campbell is apparently either ignoring or discounting the clauses in the Constitution that forbid the state from discriminating against its citizens on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. He is also ignoring the many societies, including predominately Muslim societies today, where polygyny - the marriage of one man to multiple women -- is widespread and legal.

Justice Charles Daniels asked:

"Why have there been repeated attempts over the years, particularly in the last half dozen years, to introduce legislation by various of your clients to specifically say marriage is between people of opposite sexes if the statutes are already clear on that?"

Justice Daniels later asked:

"The real debate over this is a religious debate, and the government shouldn't take sides in religious debates."

However, it would seem that with:

  • Religious conservatives trying to prevent same-sex marriage for religious reasons, and

  • Religious liberals and secularists seeking to permit same-sex marriages for both religious and civil rights reasons, and

  • Both the LGBT community and secular groups trying to have same-sex marriage permitted for civil rights reasons, and

  • The U.S. Constitution saying that the definition of marriage is a state government --not a federal government -- responsibility, then

Either the voters, or the state legislature or the state courts must decide exactly who should be eligible for marriage. It is the state government that defines minimum ages to marry, the degree of genetic closeness that is allowed, etc. So it would seem that the government should also define which gender makeups of couples are allowed to marry, subject to civil rights consideration as interpreted by the courts. In the past decade, there have been examples in the U.S. of all three groups legalizing SSM.

Campbell argued that it is not a religious debate. Rather it is a social debate. After the hearing, he said:

"At the end of the day this is a question for the Legislature and the people to decide the future of marriage."

Peter Simonson of the American Civil Liberties Union responded:

"It would be wrong to put a fundamental right to be treated equally under the law up for a popular vote."

It may be worth noting that in 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court redefined marriage to include interracial couples, about 72% of American adults were opposed to such marriages. If the Court had not issued a ruling in Loving v. Virginia that legalized interracial marriages across the country, it would have taken perhaps 25 years before most adults would have been willing to vote in a plebiscite in favor of such marriages. Since marriages are normally defined by the individual states, it would have taken much longer than 25 years in some Southern states to get a majority in favor of interracial marriages. In the meantime, injustice towards interracial couples would have continued.

During the hearings, Justice Edward Chavez asked:

"Why is this a question of constitutional interpretation, which is our responsibility, as opposed to a social-policy issue, which is the responsibility of the Legislature?"

Perhaps a good answer is that the state Constitution so clearly prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.

David Badash of The New Civil Rights Movement -- a pro-marriage equality group -- didn't pull any punches when he commented:

"Arguments from the anti-gay side were predictably obtuse and irrelevant. The flawed and debunked anti-gay 'parenting' study by Mark Regnerus was used to argue that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. Other anti-gay arguments included:

  • 'Husband and wife means husband and wife,'

  • Tradition -- [marriage has always been one man and one woman,]

  • The institution of marriage must be protected. Therefore gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and

  • Marriage was designed to channel mankind’s procreative powers — a situation that gay and lesbian couples don’t have to worry about.

Other claims were made, including that:

  • LGBT people have extraordinary political power and therefore don’t need the courts to intervene, and

  • Either the people or the legislature should decide the issue of marriage, not the court.

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It might be of interest to consider the words of Justice Robert Jackson of the U.S. Supreme Court during World War II. He wrote the court's ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 319 U.S. 624 (1943). He said:

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."  3

Although he was referring to the Bill of Rights which are the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, his comments would seem to apply equally to the clauses in the New Mexico Constitution that guarantee equal rights for persons of all genders and sexual orientations.

Monica Leaming of Farmington, who attended the proceedings with her wife, Cecilia Taulbee, said:

"I thought it went very well. I’m optimistic about the outcome, because there’s a strong indication that most New Mexicans support same-sex marriage."

Some commentators expect that the Court would issue its ruling by mid-November. That did not happen. Others expected it later, but before the end of 2013.

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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. "New Mexico Court hears arguments in marriage case," CITIZENLink / Focus on the Family, 2013-OCT-23, at:
  2. David Badash, "Same-Sex Marriage: Here’s What Just Happened In New Mexico’s Supreme Court,"The New Civil Rights Movement," 2013-OCT-23, at:
  3. "West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette," Wikipedia, as on 2013-OCT-13, at:
  4. "Full video: NM Supreme Court hearing on gay marriage," KOAT-TV, 2013-OCT-23, at: The video is in eight parts and comes with excellent quality video but, unfortunately, with almost undecipherable audio.
  5. Sunnivie Brydum, "WATCH: Highlights From New Mexico's Marriage Equality Hearing," The Advocate, 2013-OCT-24, at:

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious info. > Basic > Marriage > SSM > SSM sub menu > New Mexico > here

Home > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > SSM > SSM sub menu > New Mexico > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-SEP-28
Latest update: 2013-DEC-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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