It is beginning to feel like the battle for marriage equality in New Mexico is being waged county by county. This is, though, something that the ACLU of New Mexico is not happy with, and has pledged to put an end to by getting it clarified as being legal throughout the state.
Taos County is the latest to join the marriage equality bandwagon after 8th Judicial District Judge Jeff McElroy issued a write of Mandamus. This compelled County Clerk Anna Martinez to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Taos is the sixth county to start issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses.
Meanwhile, ACLU-NM executive director Peter Simonson stated that “I had hoped that we would secure freedom to marry with a bang, but instead we are securing it with this simmering boil. Hopefully it won’t not be too long before we can confidently say that same-sex couples all around the state unequivocally enjoy the freedom to marry.”
The problem, Simeonson noted, is that the county-by-county variance with regards to a state law can and will cause trouble for the various people involved. Simeonson stated that “That won’t be the way it ends up. That would just an untenable situation.”
Simonson also noted that county clerks around the state should be looking at Judge Alan Malott’s ruling earlier this week and use it to back up issuing same-sex marriage licenses. He went on to say that “If we have to go into court against any county, the judge is going to be relying on the ruling that we got in First District Court, and so I have no question but that we’d get favorable rulings against those counties.”
The biggest problem that they are facing at the moment is a lack of anyone who will appeal it to the next level of the court. Simonson noted that “It may be that someone will try to intervene in that lawsuit and get the ruling overturned.”
Various Republican legislators have been planning that including Senator William Sharer of Farmington who has said that “We are attempting to try to figure out the right path to ask the Supreme Court to stop these rogue judges from creating law. If they want to be lawmakers let them run for the Legislature.”
Sharer, of course, is ignoring the fact that the judges are only creating law in his mind and not in actuality. The reality is that New Mexico does not have a ban on same-sex marriage, and does not have a law which says that marriage is between a man and a woman. They are ordering clerks to do their job based upon the law as it is written.
Another option would be to get Governor Susana Martinez to intervene- as the National Organization for Marriage wants. She has stated repeatedly that she wants to have the voters in New Mexico decide the issue. This has been the standard line from Republicans who know that opposing same-sex marriage is likely to be a mine field with regards to the Independent voters and supporting same-sex marriage would lose the support of the GOP base.
It is also untenable now given that Maryland and Washington both supported their marriage laws at the ballot box and Maine voted in a law allowing for same-sex marriage. With the collapse of NOM and the pulling back from the debate of the Mormon and Catholic Churches, such campaigns have been extremely dicey.
Simonson, though, is hopeful that it will go to the state’s high court saying that “If we get a ruling by the New Mexico Supreme Court that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses or to otherwise recognize a same-sex marriage, there is no other court that a county could appeal to for a different kind of ruling. That is the final answer to the question.”