The court’s 31-page opinion states, in part, that: “All rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.”
New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and several Native American tribes in recognizing same-sex unions.
Justice Edward Chavez, who authored the unanimous opinion, rejected arguments made during an October hearing by opponents of same-sex marriage.
“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,” Chavez wrote in his opinion.
However, the ruling also stipulated that religious clergy who do not agree with same-sex marriage are not required to perform marriage ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples.
After eight of the state’s 33 counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples earlier this year, county officials petitioned the court to provide a state-wide ruling.
The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender, and that licenses issued to same-sex couples prior to the ruling must be recognized. More than 1,400 same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses in New Mexico since August.
ACLU-New Mexico’s Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives said in a release, “As a state, we have always strived to treat all families with dignity and respect, and today’s decision allowing loving, committed same sex couples to marry continues that tradition. The more than 1000 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico can now rest certain knowing their marriages will be recognized and respected by our state.”
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Read the opinion
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