Friday, August 16, 2013

NM High Court Won't Immediately Hear Marriage Equality Cases

The New Mexico Supreme Court today declined to immediately consider two cases involving several New Mexico same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses. But, according to a news release from the American Civil Liberties Union, the high court said the couples have the right to an “expedited review” of their district court case.

“While we would have liked for the court to hear this issue immediately, we are encouraged that the court recognizes that this is an important case that should be decided promptly," said  Laura Schauer Ives, legal director of the state ACLU. "We look forward to moving this case through the courts as quickly as possible.”

The ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed a lawsuit Thursday in state District Court on behalf of two lesbian who were denied marriage licenses in Bernalillo County. Other couples have since joined the suit. The organization later filed a petition to the state Supreme Court in order to expedite the case.

The court action against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver says the state constitution and statutes on marriage do not prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and do not expressly recognize or ban same-sex relationships through marriage or civil unions.

Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa, a lawyer, filed a similar but separate suit on behalf of a gay couple from Santa Fe. The Supreme Court also declined to hear that case.

Below is the denial of Egolf's case.

UPDATE: 3:51 pm  I just spoke with Egolf, who said he would be re-filing his case in district court. He said he was not too discouraged by the Supreme Court's action -- and in fact was encouraged by the fact the court granted a right to an expedited hearing in the lower court.

"It might not happen by Thanksgiving, but it might by Christmas," he said.