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Santa Fe officials say gay marriage is legal in N.M., advise clerks to issue licenses

Santa Fe officials say gay marriage is legal in N.M., advise clerks to issue licenses

SANTA FE, N.M. — Just one week before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up the question of same-sex marriage, New Mexico’s capital city is declaring same-sex marriage legal in New Mexico and they’ve issued the legal memo and resolution supporting it.

Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and a City Council member say New Mexico county clerks should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and Santa Fe’s city attorney says it would be legal to do so.

Coss and Councilor Patti Bushee plan to introduce a City Council resolution next week “recognizing” that same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico.

They have a legal memo in which City Attorney Geno Zamora says same-sex marriage is permitted in New Mexico.

Zamora says that’s partly so because New Mexico law defining marriage is gender-neutral and lacks any prohibition on same-sex marriage.

The legal memo notes that:

  • 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.

The city council resolution will be introduced at the next city council meeting on March 27th.

In a statement, Pat Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, praised the move from city officials.

“It’s about time someone made a legal argument for equality in New Mexico,” Davis said.

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“Just this month, a Republican Senator publicly came out for his son’s right to marry, Hillary Clinton endorsed full equality and the Supreme Court is prepared to hear landmark arguments on DOMA and marriage. It’s time New Mexico join the ranks of the progressive states and stand up for loving, committed couples who want nothing more than to be treated the same as they already treat their neighbors,” Davis said.

Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for Attorney General Gary King, said his office has not weighed in on the specific question of whether same sex-marriage is legal, and “to my knowledge, there has not been a formal request for an AG’s Opinion.”

Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar, who took office this year, told the Santa Fe New Mexican on Tuesday that she has no intention of issuing same-sex marriage licenses unless there’s a change in what is now an ambiguous state law.

“I would love to be able to issue marriage licenses (to same sex couples) but under the current law, I feel I’m not free and clear to do so,” she said.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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