Huge steps forward in New Mexico: Same-sex couples marry in multiple counties

This week has seen a flurry of activity supporting the freedom to marry in New Mexico. Three counties in New Mexico have been ordered by district court judges to end marriage discrimination and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. County clerks in three additional counties have followed the lead of these rulings by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in their own counties. These huge steps forward in New Mexico this week bring renewed urgency to why we need the freedom to marry uniformly across the state - and, ultimately, why we need the freedom to marry nationwide. 

On Monday, New Mexico District Court Judge Alan Malott ordered the county clerks of Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties to begin issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses. 

Buzzfeed reports more on the freedom to marry in New Mexico:

New Mexico law, Malott found, "does not preclude nor prohibit issuance of a marriage license to otherwise qualified couples on the basis of sexual orientation or the gender of its members." To the extent it is found to do so, “those prohibitions are unconstitutional and unenforceable under” New Mexico’s constitution, he ruled. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Oliver and Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar “shall comply with and perform” their duty to issue such licences.

Yesterday in Taos County, state district judge Jeff McElroy also ruled that the county clerk in Taos County must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Marriages began in Taos County on Wednesday morning. 

Dozens of couples have married since the rulings, including Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, who were at the heart of the case to win marriage in Santa Fe County. Neuman is suffering from terminal brain cancer, and she and Roper, who have been together for 21 years, petitioned the judge with an emergency request asking the judge to allow them to marry. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the National Center for Lesbian Rights took on the case and celebrated the wonderful victory. 

Kate Kendell, Executive Director of NCLR, applauded the step forward:

Today was yet another powerful reminder that the march to justice is unstoppable and gaining momentum. We are joyful for our client couples and for every same-sex couple in New Mexico. The freedom to marry is about love, commitment, family and security. These are universal values and they are center stage today.

County clerks in three other New Mexico counties - Doña Ana County, San Miguel County, and Valencia County - have followed the lead of the judges' rulings by beginning to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who apply in their county as well. 

Now, it's time for the freedom to marry once and for all across the state of New Mexico. The New Mexico Supreme Court or the New Mexico legislature must provide clarity on the question of whether same-sex couples in every county in the state can marry so that there is a decisive, definitive end to marriage discrimination in the state.  The New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has already stated multiple times that any attempts to bar same-sex couples from marrying in New Mexico is unconstitutional, and now a state-wide decision is essential. 

Freedom to Marry is proud to partner with Equality New Mexico on a public education campaign to build support for marriage across the state of New Mexico as legal teams continue making the case for equality through litigation in the courts.

We hope that the victories this week lead to a decisive ruling finding what a majority of Americans already know: That there's no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage and that same-sex couples throughout New Mexico should have the freedom to marry.