New Mexico is one of only two states in the US that neither “specifically allows nor explicitly bans” gay marriage.
In the pas,t lawmakers in New Mexico have rejected bills both banning and legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. They have also rejected any bill giving a “specific definition” of marriage. As NBC News reports, this has made the current laws on same-sex marriage vague. In fact, other than a decision by the state attorney general in 2004 to make invalid the 64 marriage licenses a Sandoval county clerk issued to same-sex couples in a single day, there is nothing in the law that does not allow same-sex marriage. A spokesman for New Mexico’s attorney general, Phil Sisneros said, “The marriage statute, which does not specify gender, is ‘sufficiently vague’ on the issue.”
This vagueness is what the mayor of Santa Fe, David Coss, is using to call on New Mexico’s county clerks to “begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples.” The mayor teamed up with Santa Fe City Attorney Geno Zamora, and together they have “examined the legal question,” and have determined that there is “nothing in the state constitution or statutes” which bars country clerks from issuing a marriage license to same-sex couples. Coss told NBC News, “People’s lives are short and when you’re waiting for your rights you know how long do you have to wait? I’m sorry we didn’t do it ten years ago. I don’t think we should wait another ten years before we push the issue. Let’s start treating everybody equally under the law.”
The City Council is set to vote on a resolution in support of Coss’ “call to action.” Zamora said that although the resolution would not actually carry very much, if any legal weight, they wanted to “send a message to the Supreme Court before it hears two cases concerning same-sex marriage, DOMA, and California’s Proposition 8. He said,
The decision was made … we cannot wait any longer to protect the rights of our brothers and sisters, our colleagues and our community members. It’s very important for cities and city attorney’s offices to enter this debate recognizing equal rights for their citizens
The State Attorney General’s office has declined to weigh in until a clerk actually issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple.
Photo: C. G. P. Grey/Flickr