BIG WIN: New Mexico Supreme Court affirms the freedom to marry state-wide
December 19, 2013
Today, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued a landmark decision in a lawsuit seeking clarification on laws regarding the freedom to marry in the state. The ruling affirmed what a majority of New Mexicans already know: That everyone in the state should have the freedom to marry the person they love.
The court ruling (PDF) states:
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.
Last month, New Mexico Unites for Marriage launched to continue the conversation about why marriage matters in the state. The broad and diverse coalition included state and national organizations, business and civic leaders, and everyday New Mexicans. Freedom to Marry is proud to serve as a founding and leading member of New Mexico Unites, alongside the ACLU of New Mexico, Equality New Mexico, ProgressNow New Mexico, America Votes, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Our America Initiative.
Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, a co-chair for the campaign, celebrated the win today. She said:
"This is an incredible victory for New Mexico, where we believe that all families matter and that everyone deserves the same basic rights and responsibilities that only marriage provides. This ruling confirms what we already know and believe – that in New Mexico, freedom means freedom for everyone."
In October, a poll commissioned by Why Marriage Matters New Mexico found that a majority of New Mexicans supported today's favorable ruling from the Supreme Court. The poll showed that 51 percent of voters support marriage for same-sex couples and that 53 percent support the Supreme Court declaring the freedom to marry state-wide.
The court case decided today dates back to this summer, when eight New Mexico counties extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples: Bernalillo County, Santa Fe County, Taos County, Doña Ana County, San Miguel County, Los Alamos County, Grant County, and Valencia County. Some counties began issuing marriage licenses after being ordered by district courts, and in others, county clerks followed the lead of these rulings and acted independently. The decisions ordering the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples are based on the gender-neutral language in the state's marriage law.
Freedom to Marry's Director of Public Engagement, Thalia Zepatos, applauded the Supreme Court's ruling.
The New Mexico Supreme Court did the right thing today by affirming fairness, freedom, and respect for same-sex couples who hope to share in the joy of marriage. The clarity of today’s ruling ensures that the freedom to marry, and the protections that come along with it, are guaranteed for loving and committed same-sex couples in the Land of Enchantment.
As couples already married in New Mexico take a deep breath and realize their marriages are now fully respected, their family members can also rejoice that no one will be treated differently in New Mexico. And from this day forward, we know that every additional wedding will show that families are helped and no one is harmed when gay couples are free to marry. Officials should quickly implement this decision statewide and prevent any further delay or ambiguity in marriage law in the state.
New Mexico Unites for Marriage is hosting Decision Day rallies tonight, December 19, in Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe. The campaign wants to show that New Mexicans overwhelmingly support the Supreme Court's decision to grant the freedom to marry across the state.
Learn more about New Mexico Unites for Marriage HERE.