As I predicted earlier this year, New Mexico has become the latest front in the fight for marriage equality. This week, county clerks in Doña Ana County (where Las Cruces is located) and Santa Fe (where the state capitol is located) began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In Santa Fe, they did so in response to a court order from District Judge Sarah Singleton, while in Las Cruces it happened because the county clerk responded to New Mexico Attorney General Gary King's determination that the state's marriage law is unconstitutionally discriminating against same-sex couples.
The Washington Post reported the news:
New Mexico law doesn’t explicitly prohibit or authorize same-sex couples to be married. The attorney general’s office has interpreted the law to prohibit gay marriage, but Attorney General Gary King also contends that the law violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.
More than a dozen other states do allow same-sex marriage.
Singleton, in her order, said that “reading a sex or sexual orientation requirement into the laws of New Mexico violates the state constitution, which mandates that ‘equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.’”
The order comes as about 90 same-sex couples have received marriage licenses in southern New Mexico since Wednesday, when the Dona Ana County clerk in Las Cruces decided to start granting them.
A group of Republican legislators is planning to file a lawsuit to stop the clerk in that county, the second largest in the state.Recently, the state Supreme Court declined to rule directly on the constitutionality of the state's marriage law but did endorse expedited lower court review. That's good, because events around marriage equality are coming fast and furious in the Land of Enchantment.