The Freedom to Marry in New Mexico

Winning Marriage: December 19, 2013

Same-sex couples began marrying in New Mexico on December 19, 2013 after the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, effective immediately. Read the ruling. The court case that triggered the victory in New Mexico came after a flurry of activity in New Mexico during the summer of 2013. In August and September 2013, over the course of two weeks, eight New Mexico counties extended the freedom to marry to same-sex couples, based on the gender-neutral language in the state's marriage law.

History and the Path to Victory:

  • February 20, 2004: Marriage licenses are granted in Sandoval County, New Mexico. Attorney General Patricia Madrid issues an opinion stating that the licenses are invalid under New Mexico law and orders the clerk to stop. County clerks agree not to issue any marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • July 30, 2007: A Massachusetts court determines that New Mexico does not have a statute banning same-sex marriages due to the gender-neutral wording of the marriage statute.  
  • 2004-2011: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in New Mexico take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
  • January 2011: New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issues an opinion stating that marriages performed in other jurisdictions will likely be valid in New Mexico.
  • March 21, 2013: Same-sex couples and counsel file a lawsuit in state court seeking the freedom to marry in New Mexico, Griego v. Oliver. In the same year, several other cases are filed, building momentum for marriage in the courts. Read the ruling.
  • August 26, 2013: District Court Judge Alan M. Malott rules that prohibitions on the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples are unconstitutional, ordering two New Mexico counties to begin issuing marriage licenses.
  • September 2013: Several other New Mexico counties begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.
  • October 1, 2013: Polling in New Mexico tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
  • November 7, 2013: New Mexico Unites for Marriage, the campaign to win and defend the freedom to marry in New Mexico, launches to defend the freedom to marry and build support for a statewide court ruling in New Mexico.
  • December 19, 2013: The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously rules that the state constitution requires the extension of marital rights to same-sex couples. Read the ruling.
  • February 20, 2014: As the New Mexico legislative session comes to an end without discussion of a constitutional amendment to repeal the freedom to marry, marriage supporters declare final victory in the state.
  • June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, ending marriage discrimination across the country.

Groups That Actively Worked 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.
  • 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.
  • Just New Mexico was a grassroots organization working to achieve the freedom to marry for all lesbian and gay couples in New Mexico.
  • Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.