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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Mexico:

2013-DEC:
More reactions to the NM Supreme Court ruling.
Conflicts about the role of the courts.
Conflicts about the functions of marriage.
Senator Sharer (R) files bill to add anti-SSM clause
to the New Mexico Constitution

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Discussion of his topic is continued from the previous essay

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2013-DEC-19: More reactions to the NM Supreme Court's decision:

Steve Terrell of Santa Fe New Mexican wrote:

  • "Gov. Susana Martinez, not a supporter of marriage equality, issued a statement calling for both sides of the issue to show each other respect. She said:

    'My personal views on this issue are well-known, and I’m confident that most New Mexicans believe, like I do, that it should have been settled by a vote of the people. Instead, the Supreme Court stepped in and rendered their decision. ...'

    'As we move forward, I am hopeful that we will not be divided, as we must come together to tackle very pressing issues, like reforming education and growing our economy, in the weeks and months ahead.'

  • The web site of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe states:

    'The bishops of New Mexico recognize the New Mexico Supreme Court as the interpreter of the State Constitution. The Catholic Church respects and loves the gay and lesbian members of our community. We will continue to promote Catholic teaching of the Biblical definition of marriage to be that of one man and one woman.'

  • Brian Brown, president of National Organization for Marriage, issued a statement saying:

    'Once again, activists judges have thrown out the historic legal understanding of marriage in New Mexico. This is a continuation of a very dangerous rush towards silencing people of faith who simply believe marriage to be the union of one man and one woman'." 6

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Two conflicting opinions about the role of the New Mexico Supreme Court:

  • Ken Klukowski writes for the Family Research Council -- a major conservative Christian para-church organization, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group, He criticized the state courts whom he feels must always rule in harmony with the current will of the majority even if the ruling conflicts with the New Mexico Constitution and Bill of Rights. He wrote:

    "The New Mexico Supreme Court is the final word on the meaning of the New Mexico state constitution -– a final word that is short of the will of the New Mexico people themselves. The court was acting as a legislature, not as a court." 2

  • Justice Chavez, writing on behalf of the Court, recognized a fear often expressed by the founders of the United States back in the 18th century: that in any Constitutional Democracy it is imperative that the Courts prevent the "tyranny of the majority." That is, there must be a way to protect the fundamental human rights of groups like:

    Justice Chavez wrote in his ruling that:

    "[The N.M. Constitution, Article II, § 4] states:

      'All persons are born equally free, and have certain natural, inherent and inalienable rights, among which are the rights of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of seeking and obtaining safety and happiness.” These inherent rights, enjoyed by all New Mexicans, appear along with twenty-three other provisions known as the New Mexico Bill of Rights, which include the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom from unreasonable government searches and seizures, due process, and the equal protection of the laws.'

    "When government is alleged to have threatened any of these rights, it is the responsibility of the courts to interpret and apply the protections of the Constitution. The United States Supreme Court explained the courts’ responsibility as follows:

      '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. {W. Virginia State Bd. of Educ. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 638 (1943)]'

    "Thus, when litigants allege that the government has unconstitutionally interfered with a right protected by the Bill of Rights, or has unconstitutionally discriminated against them, courts must decide the merits of the allegation. If proven, courts must safeguard constitutional rights and order an end to the discriminatory treatment." 4

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Two conflicting opinions about the purpose of marriage:

The main difference of belief between the plaintiffs and defendants relates to the basic purpose of marriage:

  • The plaintiffs in this case consist of five same-sex couples who feel that all loving, committed couples should be able to marry, whether they be of the same-sex or opposite-sex, subject to the usual legal requirements such as age. They view marriage as a fundamental right for all couples who are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to each other.

  • Those opposed to same-sex marriage are mostly religious conservatives whose interpretation of their Holy Book -- the Bible, Hebrew Scriptures, Qur'an. etc. -- convinces them that God has a plan for marriage. His plan only includes marriage by opposite-sex couples, and the procreation of children by the couple alone. However, because of the principle of separation of church and state which lies at the foundation of United States constitutional law, such an argument is without value in the courts. Rather, those opposed to SSM assert that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is related to the fundamental state governmental interests of "responsible procreation and childbearing."

    They regard one man marrying one woman, engaging in sexual intercourse, conceiving one or more children, and raising them in an intact family with both their genetic mother and father present is "responsible procreation and childbearing." For a same-sex married couple to raise children -- whether conceived via artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization, or adopted, or procreated in an earlier marriage, or procreated via a surrogate mother -- is presumably "irresponsible procreation and childbearing" because children are not raised with both their genetic mother and genetic father present. They believe that the state has every right to interfere, restrict, and ban such marriages. Many, many dozens of studies over an interval of many years had reached the conclusion that the outcome of children depends primarily on the love exhibited by parents and not the gender makeup of the parents.

Justice Chavez wrote in his ruling that:

"We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children if they choose to raise children together, and their property. Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law. 4

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2013-DEC-20: State Senator Bill Sharer (R) files proposed state constitutional amendment:

One day after the New Mexico Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Senator Sharer prefiled Senate Joint Resolution 6. If is approved by the Legislature and later on election day by state voters, it would add a short clause to the state Constitution -- apparently the first time that discrimination has been entered into the constitution. The clause would say:

"Marriage, which is a right, in this state shall consist only of the union between one man and one woman."

Senator Sharer said:

"With this disappointing ruling [by the state Supreme Court] yesterday, the ... Court in essence is saying current laws that refer to marriage as between a man and a woman are unconstitutional. we need to make that union constitutional by putting the definition of marriage in the state Constitution with the will of the people. ... “It is now up to the Legislature to give voters this opportunity to be heard on such a significant cultural debate." 7

Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican, commented:

"Legislative opponents of gay marriage — including Sharer — have tried many times for more than a decade to pass laws or constitutional amendments outlawing same-sex marriage. Normally, such legislation stalls in the legislative committee process. With Democrats controlling the Legislature, there’s no evidence to indicate the result would be any different in the upcoming session." 7

The proposed amendment will face other challenges if it comes up to a popular vote:

  • Other states, when they have legalized same-sex marriage, have seen public support for marriage equality increase significantly.

  • Also in other states, voters have been observed to be reluctant to change state constitutions in order to introduce discrimination.

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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. Lisa Keen, "NM Supreme Court: Marriage Equality A Reality for Same-Sex Couples," The Rainbow Times, 2013-DEC-19. at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  2. Aaron Blake, "New Mexico Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage," Washington Post, 2013-DEC-19, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
  3. "NM County Officials Resign Over Marriage Equality," The Rainbow Times, 2013-DEC-20. at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  4. Text of the "New Mexico Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage," Scribd, 2013-DEC-19, at: http://www.scribd.com/
  5. Bethany Monk, "New Mexico Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Same-Sex Marriage," CitizenLink, 2013-DEC-19, at: http://www.citizenlink.com/
  6. Steve Terrell, "Gay marriage allowed in New Mexico," Santa Fe New Mexican, 2013-DEC-29, at: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/
  7. Steve Terrell, "Lawmaker files proposal for amendment to ban gay marriage," Santa Fe New Mexican, 2013-DEC-21, at: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/

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

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2013-DEC-20
Latest update: 2013-DEC-22
Author: B.A. Robinson

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