King stated that he supports same-sex marriage rights, but would not commit saying that it was a constitutional issue and the courts had to decide. A lawsuit was already filed this past March.
Equality New Mexico Executive Director Amber Royster stated “Despite Attorney General King’s refusal to take a definitive stand on the gender neutrality of New Mexico’s marriage laws. EQNM still believes that our Constitution already affirms our commitment as New Mexicans to treating others with the same respect, dignity and fairness with which we wish to be treated. No one should be told they can’t marry the person they love.”
EQNM and the ACLU of New Mexico have partnered up to educate and lobby the people of New Mexico with regards to same-sex marriage.
Royster also stated “Full recognition of LGBT relationships cannot be a piecemeal, county-by-county debate—our acceptance and recognition as valued members of all New Mexican communities must be realized in every corner of our Land of Enchantment. We call upon the courts to ensure, once and for all, that every LGBT New Mexican will be free to marry the person they love, regardless of gender. Equality New Mexico will not rest until every loving couple in New Mexico has a chance to stand up and make a public vow of love and commitment, before their family and community.”
EQNM also stated “We were optimistic that Gary King’s name would be on the document lifting the stigma of discrimination against gays in New Mexico. Sadly, that is not the case. This morning, the attorney general declined to issue an opinion on the question of marriage equality in New Mexico.”
New Mexico marriage law states that marriage is a contract between two people and makes no mention of gender. In fact, New Mexico is in the very same situation that Vermont was in back in 1999 when now-VT Supreme Court Justice Beth Robinson won her case arguing that Vermont law allowed for same-sex couples to marry.
The Vermont legislature ended up creating civil unions. Robinson would lead the subsequent ten year charge to make marriage in Vermont equal. At she began her court case, Vermont’s marriage law was gender neutral.
In announcing his non-decision, King stated “Based on extensive research, we cannot state definitively that New Mexico law currently permits same-sex marriage. Although state statutes may limit marriage to couples of the opposite sex, this does not mean they will pass constitutional muster. New Mexico statutes that preclude same-sex couples from marrying are vulnerable to challenge under the equal protection guarantees of the federal and state constitutions.”
He also went on to say “I am keenly aware that some county clerks may have been waiting for direction regarding their authority under current New Mexico law to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Because of our conclusion, we caution against issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples before the courts have decided the issue or the legislature changes the law.”