New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King submits filing to expand state’s marriage law

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Attorney General Gary King of New Mexico has expressed his opposition against the state’s marriage law, as he believes LGBT couples should “be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage.”

King submitted a 29-page filing on July 23, as he believed the state law is unconstitutional and concluded that the LGBT community is a suspect class (a group subject to systematic discrimination) “based on their history of discrimination and their political powerlessness.”

“There is no doubt that Article II [Section] 18 of the New Mexico Constitution requires the state to treat equally any of its citizens seeking legal recognition of their marriage, and that any statutory scheme interfering with that guarantee is flatly unconstitutional,” King wrote in his filing.

King joins several attorney generals who oppose the state’s marriage law as it prohibits LGBT couples to marry: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

“It’s great to see Attorney General King join many state officials around the country who have decided that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is indefensible under the constitution,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) staff attorney Chris Stoll. “These laws serve only to harm same-sex couples and demean their families and children while helping no one.”

King’s filing also argued that marriage equality is not yet legal in New Mexico because it doesn’t specifically ban marriage equal nor is it gender neutral.

“State courts in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Minnesota have considered analogous statutory schemes and concluded a mix of gender-specific and gender-neutral terminology does not convey the right for same sex couples to marry,” King wrote.

“Issuing a writ of mandamus would to Respondent would thus represent an expansion of the jurisdiction conferred by Article VI [Section 3] and presents the very real threat of overloading the court’s docket with mandamus actions concerning any dispute a party has with any local and county official: county tax assessment protests, local zoning disputes, and any other dispute concerning only county or local officials would all be fair game.”

While organizations like NCLR and the American Civil Liberties Union issued separate petitions for the New Mexico Supreme Court for issuing different writ of mandamus, the petitions are still pending.

“It asks the court to hold that the New Mexico Constitution requires the state to permit same-sex couples to marry, and also to respect the marriages of those married in other states,” Stoll said. “That petition remains pending alongside the one the attorney responded to yesterday.”

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