Marriage Equality Becomes Legal In New Mexico

Seventeen down, 33 to go! The New Mexico Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that marriage rights must be extended to gay couples throughout the state. The court unanimously ruled denying same-sex couples the right to marry would be a violation of the Equal Protection clause of New Mexico's constitution.

"We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law," reads the ruling.

The court rejected the argument presented by marriage equality opponents that the state had a legitimate governmental interest in "responsible procreation and childrearing," declaring that supposed interest "is not reflected in the history of the development of New Mexico's marriage laws. 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. In addition, New Mexico law recognizes the right of same-gender couples to raise children."

The decision requires all county clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and makes all the unions of couples married prior to the decision legally valid.