News that the state’s highest court ruled to allow same-sex couples to marry brought a joyous crowd to Albuquerque’s Morningside Park on Thursday evening to celebrate with candlelight, music and song.
Groups and individuals who have advocated for same-sex marriage called it a victory for their years of persistence.
“We stand on the shoulders of generations of gay and lesbian people and our allies who have helped make this possible,” said Havens Levitt, coordinator of All Families Matter. “What a great celebration this is for all of us in New Mexico.”
Alma Rosa Silva Banuelos, director of the UNM LGBTQ Resource Center, called on the crowd of about 200 to raise their candles to honor those who fought for the right with “blood, sweat and tears.”
“We did it,” she said.
Canadian couple Tim Guimond and Elliot Alexander were visiting friends Eric Klamerus and Ricky Adams in Albuquerque when they heard the news. “What great timing to be able to celebrate with them,” Alexander said.
Klamerus and Adams received a marriage license from the Sandoval County Clerk in 2004. Klamerus said they’ve been living in a state of limbo since then waiting for the Supreme Court decision. “This clarifies it,” Klamerus said.
Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who spoke at the rally, said the day in August when District Court Judge Alan Malott ruled that laws banning gay marriage were unconstitutional was “the happiest day in my job.”
“God bless the Supreme Court for coming to the right decision,” Oliver said.
The ruling prompted celebrations in other major New Mexico cities. In Las Cruces, people gathered at First Christian Church on El Paseo Road. Among them was Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, who began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in August, before Oliver.
In Santa Fe, many people reacted jubilantly to the ruling.
“I’m ecstatic,” said former Santa Fe city attorney Geno Zamora.
“It’s very, very sweet,” Mayor David Coss exclaimed.
“Thrilled” was the word used by City Councilor Patti Bushee.
The high court’s decision came nine months after Coss and Bushee introduced a Santa Fe City Council resolution taking the position that same-sex marriage was already legal under the state constitution – based on a legal opinion by Zamora – and calling on county clerks to begin issuing licenses for gay marriages.
The resolution, which had no legal or binding effect but prompted a public debate, was adopted by a divided City Council in April.
“Everything we’d heard was that we were years away from a decision,” Coss said, “and now here we are.”
“Today’s decision of the New Mexico Supreme Court reinforces my faith in the New Mexico judicial system and in my City of Holy Faith,” said Bushee, who is gay.
Not everyone involved in the Santa Fe debate over gay marriage was happy Thursday.
J.D. Vasquez, who helped lead religious-based opposition to the City Council resolution, provided this statement: “In upholding the rights of a small, well-funded and well-organized minority, the New Mexico Supreme Court has denied the ‘right of conscience’ to innumerable New Mexicans who disagree with same-sex ‘marriage.’…”