New Mexico Becomes 17th US State to Legalize Gay Marriage
The highest court in the US state of New Mexico has unanimously ruled that denying same-sex couples marriage licenses is a violation of their constitutional rights.
The New Mexico Supreme Court issued the historic ruling on Thursday, making the southwestern state the 17th in the nation, plus the District of Columbia and a handful of Native American tribes, to legalize gay marriage.
“We hold that the state of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend them the rights, protections and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote in the court’s decision.
Conservative groups, many of them Christian-based, unsuccessfully argued that marriage equality should be denied to same-sex couples because they cannot procreate.
“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,” the court asserted.
The Associated Press reports eight of the state’s 33 counties had already been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
LGBT rights advocates hailed Thursday’s ruling.
“The court is entirely correct that denying lesbian and gay couples the same rights as everyone else is fundamentally unjust,” Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin told the Washington Post. “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.”
Many religious and conservative groups and lawmakers lamented the court’s decision.
Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington) said a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is needed to settle the issue.
Voices for Family Values, a Flora-based Christian group whose stated mission is “promoting Biblical worldview in New Mexico,” said it will keep fighting against marriage equality.
“Today the New Mexico Supreme Court released their ruling which redefines marriage to mean something it was never meant to be,” the group said in a statement. “Though this battle did not end in our favor, the war is far from over.”