Three cheers for “the Land of Enchantment!” New Mexico has become the seventeenth state to legalize marriage equality.
On Thursday, December 19, the state’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to wed.
Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote in the decision: “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.”
Because there was neither an official ban nor an embrace of same-sex marriage prior to the ruling, some counties had already been issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Now, all same-sex marriages will be legal and officially recognized by the state.
“The court is entirely correct that denying lesbian and gay couples the same rights as everyone else is fundamentally unjust,” said the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin. “Regardless of where you live, all people should have the ability to marry the person they love, and now the legislature must not do anything to turn back the clock in the Land of Enchantment.”
While marriage equality opponents recognized the legitimacy of the decision, they insisted that it is not what the people want or need.
“The New Mexico Supreme Court is the final word on the meaning of the New Mexico state constitution—a final word that is short of the will of the New Mexico people themselves,” said Ken Klukowski, Director of Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. “The court was acting as a legislature, not as a court.”
Opponents also argued that gay and lesbian couples should not be permitted to marry due to the fact that they cannot procreate in the traditional manner.
However, the court retorted, “Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law, as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying.”
Congratulations, New Mexico!