STATUS: No specific laws on marriage
WHAT'S HAPPENING: On March 21, two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in New Mexico filed a lawsuit in the district court of Albuquerque, NM. The lawsuit came just two days after Santa Fe Mayor David Cross and Councilor Patti Bushee announced that they would sponsor a resolution recognizing that same-sex couples can legally marry in the state of New Mexico and that county clerks should begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The resolution is based on the gender-neutral language in the state's marriage law.
HISTORY: New Mexico's laws do not explicitly allow or prohibit marriage for same-sex couples. In 2004, a clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but the state’s then-Attorney General ordered the county to stop, and declared the marriages invalid. County clerks agreed not to issue any other licenses to same-sex couples. Since then, state lawmakers have not taken further action and the freedom to marry has hung in legal limbo. Read more about marriage in New Mexico here.
There is also no explicit impediment to same-sex couples from New Mexico marrying in jurisdictions with the freedom to marry and having those marriages respected in the state.
In January 2011, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion on whether New Mexico law allows the state to respect legal out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples. Citing New Mexico's lack of legislation on the freedom to marry, he said, "While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico. ... Without an identifiable adverse public policy in this area, we conclude that a court addressing the issue would likely hold that a valid same-sex marriage from another jurisdiction is valid in New Mexico."
For several years, marriage supporters have worked toward legislation to approve the freedom to marry across the state. In the 2007 legislative session, New Mexico introduced both a marriage bill and a domestic partnership bill. Although the marriage bill did not move, the domestic partnership bill passed the House and passed two Senate Committees before the 2007 legislative session ended, and it was introduced again in 2008 and 2010.
GROUPS ACTIVELY WORKING ON MARRIAGE:
- Equality New Mexico is an advocacy organization that uses both community outreach and the political process to promote civil rights, to end discrimination, and to further the general welfare of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in New Mexico.
- Just New Mexico is a grass roots organization working to achieve the freedom to marry for all lesbian and gay couples in New Mexico.
- The ACLU of New Mexico is one of the organizations that filed the March 2013 lawsuit on behalf of two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry.
- National Center for Lesbian Rights is one of the organizations that filed the March 2013 lawsuit on behalf of two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry.
- Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
- Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.
POLLING DATA: 45% of New Mexico residents say they support the freedom to marry, with 43% opposed. This represents a shift from six months before, when 42% said they supported marriage between same-sex couples, while 48% voiced their opposition. (Public Policy Polling, December 2011)
NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES: According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 5,825 same-sex couples are living in New Mexico, representing 7.4 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Blog Posts Related to New Mexico
This afternoon, two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry filed a lawsuit in the district court of Albuquerque, New Mexico after they were denied marriage licenses by the Bernalillo County Clerk.
Yesterday in Santa Fe, NM, the mayor and city councilor announced that they would sponsor a resolution recognizing that same-sex couples can legally marry in the state of New Mexico and that county clerks should begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Today, legislative leaders from Indiana's House and Senate announced that they would not vote in 2013 on an anti-gay constitutional amendment that proposes to permanently limit the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The move is the latest example of states in nearly every region of the country taking steps forward rather than backward on the freedom to marry.
Resources Related to New Mexico
A listing of both state and national political parties that have made strong statements in support of the freedom to marry.
Demographic and economic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children in New Mexico.
Groundbreaking research showing a huge increase in same-sex couples identifying themselves as "unmarried partners".