Three down, thirty to go. State District Judge Alan Malott has ruled that New Mexico’s constitution prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples with regards to marriage licenses. He has ordered Bernalillo County to join Dona Ana and Santa Fe counties in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The county clerk of Bernalillo is gearing up to issue those licenses too.
Malott’s ruling is being seen as more sweeping than the temporary order in Santa Fe because he has directly stated that same-sex marriage is legal. Laura Schauer Ives, a lawyer with the ACLU of New Mexico, called the ruling ‘monumental.’
Judge Malott had only been asked to rule that the state recognize the marriage of a dying woman, Jen Roper, to her long time partner, Angelique Neuman, on her death certificate. The couple wed in a Santa Fe hospital.
The hearing was short and neither the county nor the state objected to the request. Malott took the opportunity to rule on not just that issue, but on five others who are seeking marriage licenses. Ives stated that “We were stunned and amazed.”
Assistant Attorney General Scott Fuqua stated that the decision is not binding on county clerks outside of Bernalillo and Sante Fe counties, but it could be used to justify issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Neuman stated that “It’s been a long, long fight. I’m glad things went our way.”
The National Organization for Marriage has been going ballistic over the issuance of marriage licenses in New Mexico. They have called on Governor Susana Martinez to intercede and stop the marriages, but so far, she has not made any move to do so.
Roper and Neuman joined a lawsuit brought by the ACLU on behalf of five other couples. Tanya Struble and Therese Councilor will be getting marriage as quickly as possible. Councilor stated that “I thought maybe it would be partially good, but it was 99.9 percent awesome.”
Christine Butler of Albuquerque, an opponent of same-sex marriage and an attendee of the hearing, claims that Judge Malott’s ruling violates her rights and said “I don’t want to bring my children or go to places and see same-sex couples showing a lot of affection. … That’s against God’s law.” No word if anyone is still waiting for her to explain how this ruling violates her Constitutional rights.
Some Republican legislators are planning to file a lawsuit to stop the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Senator William Sherer claimed that it is up to the governor and the legislature to make laws. He said “It is inexplicable how a district court just today discovered a new definition of marriage in our laws, when our marriage law has not been changed in over a century.”
Apparently Sherer has not read the law in question. New Mexico does not have an explicit ban on same-sex couples getting married, and the marriage law does not have any gender identifiers. This means that same-sex marriage may have always been legal in New Mexico, but never taken advantage of, and that it was only interpreted as meaning between a man and a woman.