Is same-sex marriage already legal in New Mexico?

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The city council of Santa Fe, New Mexico just voted 5-3 to legalize marriage equality. But according to some officials, it may already be legal by default throughout the entire state.

A legal memo from City Attorney Geno Zamora and Assistant City Attorney Jamison Barkley points out that “New Mexico marriage law does not define marriage as between a man and a woman. Nor does New Mexico law prohibit same-sex marriage. New Mexico already recognizes same sex marriages performed in other states and our Constitution requires equal treatment on the basis of sex.” 

Therefore, it concludes, “same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico.”

The memo is scheduled to be introduced as a Santa Fe City Council resolution by Mayor David Coss and Councilor Patti Bushee on March 27.

Santa Fe’s official passing of marriage equality will apply only to the city, not the state as a whole. New Mexico county clerks currently follow a 2004 directive from then-Attorney General Patricia Madrid barring them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. 

ҬBut the current State Attorney General, Gary King, issued an opinion in 2011 that New Mexico must honor same-sex marriages from other states. King was asked earlier this year to decide if the state can issue legally valid marriage licenses to same-sex couples; his verdict is pending.

Though the New Mexico Legislature has neither legalized nor banned marriage equality in recent sessions, the issue will be heard in court soon. 

A lawsuit was recently filed when two lesbian couples were denied marriage licenses earlier in 2013.

429Magazine

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