Thursday, August 29, 2013

123.2 - Good News #2: Same-sex marriage rights spreading in New Mexico

Good News #2: Same-sex marriage rights spreading in New Mexico

The other bit of good news is that something a bit unusual is going on in New Mexico.

Judge Alan Malott of New Mexico's Second Judicial District ruled on August 26 that state law does not prohibit marriage between same-sex couples and ordered the Bernalillo County clerk to issue marriage licenses.

The ruling concerns a lawsuit filed on behalf of three lesbian couples who said the state constitution has no explicit ban on marriage rights for same-sex couples.

In his ruling, Malott said
Gay and lesbian citizens of New Mexico have endured a long history of discrimination. Denial of the right to marry continues this unfortunate and intolerable pattern.
Interestingly, he also refused to stay his order, finding there is "no benefit to the parties or the public interest" in waiting for the outcome of "a lengthy path of litigation" while basic rights "are being compromised or denied on a daily basis."

So that's Bernalillo County. Meanwhile, just four days earlier, as a result of a lawsuit filed by two Santa Fe men, District Judge Sarah Singleton issued an order to Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples there, also finding that state law does not prohibit same-sex marriage.

And earlier in that same week, Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after he said the state law doesn't prohibit it.

It appears that marriage justice is spreading in New Mexico - county by county.

After the Doña Ana clerk began issuing licenses, some Republican lawmakers said they would file a lawsuit because, they said, county clerks cannot make law. But of course, the answer is, the clerk is not making law, he's refusing to enforce a law which doesn't exist.

Meanwhile, neither Republican Gov. Susana Martinez nor Democratic Attorney General Gary King, who plans to run for governor next year, seem inclined to step in one way or the other - which is itself good news because how long ago would there have been even a question of a political risk in opposing same-sex marriage rights?


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