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New Mexico

ACLU to announce ‘groundbreaking’ N.M. lawsuit on same-sex marriage

Thursday, March 21, 2013
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico is set announce a major lawsuit on same-sex marriage in the state.

The group and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are scheduled Thursday to gives details of the lawsuit, which the groups call “groundbreaking.”

A spokesman for the ACLU of New Mexico declined to give information about the lawsuit before the scheduled press conference. But the announcement comes as local and state officials argue whether current New Mexico law allows county clerks to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Earlier this week, Santa Fe city officials said they believe New Mexico law allows county clerks to issue licenses for same-sex marriages.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and a city cuncil member said Tuesday that New Mexico county clerks should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora says it would be legal to do so.

According to Zamora, New Mexico law defining marriage is gender-neutral and lacks any prohibition on same-sex marriage.

A legal memo by Zamora notes:

  • New Mexico’s laws do not define marriage as between a man and a woman, the definitions are gender-neutral;
  • A statutory list of prohibited marriages does not list same-sex couples;
  • Same-sex marriages from other states are already recognized by New Mexico law;
  • To discriminate against same-sex couples would violate the New Mexico Constitution which requires equality under the law regardless of sex.

Zamora also says same-sex marriage is legal because the state already recognizes same-marriages from other states and the New Mexico Constitution requires equal treatment on the basis of sex.

A press conference has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. MDT.

Developing story, stay tuned for updates.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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