Friday, December 27, 2013

139.2 - Santa Claus story: same-sex marriage comes to New Mexico

Santa Claus story: same-sex marriage comes to New Mexico

So now, in respect to the season, three quick items with a sort of - sort of, or at least I can claim to be making a - seasonal connection.

First, we have Santa Claus bringing the good news to all the good girls and boys and the girls and girls and the boys and boys.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that same-sex partners have the right to marry in that state.

I've mentioned this before, initially back in August. The state constitution of New Mexico neither specifically allows nor specifically denies the right of same-sex couples to marry, referring to marriage only as the union of two people. The case arose because some counties in New Mexico, noting that fact, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Others would not. Some legal tussling ensued, which lead to most of the counties together asking the state Supreme Court to decide the issue so there would be one statewide standard.

The court has. Emphatically. "Barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation," the five justices ruled, violates the equal protection clause of the state Constitution.

The court bushed aside the only arguments offered by opponents, which were that the government has an "overriding interest in responsible procreation and childrearing" and in avoiding the "deinstitutionalization" of marriage. For the first, the court simply noted that "procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law" and dismissed the second as "nothing more than an argument to maintain only opposite-gender marriages."

New Mexico thus becomes the 17th state, plus the District of Columbia, the recognize marriage justice. It is true that from here on in, the state-by-state battle is going to get a lot harder - but leave that aside for now to just note how for some folks in love and and long-term relationships in New Mexico, this year's holiday lights are going to shine a little brighter.

Footnote: Because of the holidays, this edition of Left Side of the Aisle was prepared in advance, which is why there is no mention of the cases of Utah or Ohio, as both those decisions came down after the show was done. I addressed them is the post inserted immediately following this one.


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