Friday, October 25, 2013

Land of Enchantment

New Mexico may become the fifteenth state to allow marriage equality.

A leading legislative advocate against same-sex marriage and at least some gay-rights activists agree on one thing: After a two-hour hearing in which the state Supreme Court grilled lawyers about same sex-marriage, both said they believe the court will strike down laws prohibiting gay couples from marrying.

The case, Griego vs. Oliver, was filed several months ago after Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver refused to issue licenses to two lesbian couples. Four other same-sex couples who were denied licenses in Albuquerque later joined the suit. A few months later, a state district judge in Albuquerque ordered Oliver — who personally supports same-sex marriage — to not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The highly charged issue has rippled through political circles since the Legislature declined to resolve it last session. It bubbled over when same-sex couples in Las Cruces, Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties asked county clerks to issue marriage licenses. At first they declined, but then judicial filings cleared the way for same-sex licenses in some counties, but not others. The case was accepted by the five-member court when all 33 county clerks across the state asked for clarity on the laws. The Supreme Court did not indicate when it might issue a ruling, and it could take months.

There currently is no law on the state that specifically forbids same-sex marriage.