SANTA FE, N.M. — The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously legalized homosexual ‘marriage’ in the state on Thursday, ruling that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to those in same-sex relationships.
“Denying same-gender couples the right to marry and thus depriving them and their families of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage violates the equality demanded by the Equal Protection Clause of the New Mexico Constitution,” wrote Judge Edward Chavez on behalf of the five-judge panel.
The decision follows a vote in August by county clerks in the state to ask the state Supreme Court to bring clarity to the issue after some clerks began issuing licenses to homosexuals. Four district court judges had ordered clerks in Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Taos and Grant County to issue the licenses this year in various localized lawsuits. One clerk in Dona Ana County had also begun issuing licenses on his own volition.
New Mexico law does not contain specific language regarding the institution of marriage—and is believed to be the only state in the nation that does not regulate marriage–but some attorney generals have asserted that state law as a whole prevents homosexuals from tying the knot.
On Thursday, the New Mexico Supreme Court said that denying licenses to homosexuals would violate the equal protection clause of the 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,” it stated.
The justices also rejected argument that marriage must only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman for the purposes of conceiving and raising children.
“Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law,” Chavez wrote on behalf of the court, “as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying.”
However, following the ruling, the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) issued a statement, disagreeing with the court’s line of logic.
“The New Mexico Supreme Court ignored that time-tested understanding of marriage and replaced it with the recently conceived notion that marriage means special government recognition for close relationships,” stated legal counsel Jim Campbell. “This unfortunate result prevents New Mexicans from deciding the future of marriage–its very definition as well as its role in society–through an inclusive democratic process.”
Governor Susanna Martinez, who opposes same-sex “marriage,” also contended that the matter should have been decided by voters, rather than in the courts.
“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,” she told reporters.
New Mexico now becomes the 17th state to approve homosexual “marriage,” following Hawaii and Illinois.