Same-Sex marriage is legal in Mexico today in a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court in Las Cruces, N.M. This ruling also relieves County Clerks, who have been issuing marriage licences without higher authority since earlier this year.
Since County Clerks began issuing licences to same-sex couples, some Republican lawmakers had filed lawsuits against the clerks, claiming that the Clerks had violated the state’s Constitution. The Clerks, for their part, announced that there was nothing in the New Mexico Constitution that prevented them from issuing the licences. Several County Clerks had petitioned the Supreme Court to clarify the law.
The case ruled upon today, Griego v. Oliver, was a lawsuit filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of five lesbian couples who had been denied marriage licences by the County Clerk of one of New Mexico’s counties.
The lawsuit contends that the state’s marriage statues and Constitution do not prohibit same-sex couples, and therefore same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico.
The opposition argued that the state marriage statutes did make same-sex marriage illegal and that this was reinforced by “an unbroken line of precedents.”
New Mexico, unlike any other US state, had no clear language in its marriage statutes permitting or prohibiting same-sex marriage. It simply had it written that marriage was between two parties. However, state laws and proceedures have not allowed same-sex couples to marry. For example, marriage forms required both male and female applicants.
The Supreme Court’s panel of five judges found that it was unconstitutional to deny licences for marriage to gay and lesbian couples, and that the New Mexico Constitution required the state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
In Justice Edward Chavez’s 31-page opinion, he laid out the following points:
– The original Legislature in 1862 did not intend to permit same-sex marriage, but…
– The Equal Protection Clause of the N.M. Constitution was analyzed by the Court. The Court looked to the N.M. Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution.
– The court rejected rational basis scrutiny because such scrutiny would not allow same-sex marriage. This was in keeping with the requests of same-sex proponents.
– This was done because the N.M Constitution’s Equal Rights Protection Clause would otherwise be violated.
– In addition, no religious organization will be required to solemnize a marriage involuntarily, so the change will not cause such organizations hardship.
Some lawyers have said that this trial will be the most important of 2013.
The state will henceforth define “civil marriage” as the “voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others.” “Same-sex couples will be endowed under law with the same rights and responsibilities as other couples.
New Mexico became the eight US state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2013. This legalization was by court decision, as detailed above. The other two methods of legalizing same-sex marriage in that U.S. have been state legislature and popular vote. There are 17-states where same-sex marriage is legal; 33 ban it.
2013 polls show that around 50 percent of Americans are in favor same-sex marriage, roughly the same as 2012’s polls. This demographic has been steadily rising since 1996 when such polls began. However, there is a marked difference between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans favor no legal recognition for same-sex marriage, while Democrats favor legal recognition. Independents also favor legal recognition.
What other factors are notable in the polls? Those in favor of same-sex marriage are more commonly younger, more educated, higher income, Latino or white, Jewish, nonreligious or Catholic, Northeastern, and female.
President Obama, who had initially opposed gay marriage (while stating he thought all people should be treated fairly), announced in 2012 that he had gone through an “evolution” on the matter and wanted to affirm that at that time he believed same-sex couples should be able to get married. However, this issue sits well below other pressing U.S. issues.
Those who predict a state’s likelihood to legalize same-sex marriage look to nine qualities: size of LGBT population, voters, ballot questions, governors, constitution, current law, lawmakers, litigation, and neighbor states.
Legalization of same-sex marriage is currently underway in Connecticut, Iowa, DC, Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Vermont, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Washington. If these states adopt new legalization, half of America will allow same-sex marriage along with New Mexico.
By Day Blakely Donaldson