Thursday, December 19, 2013

NM Supremes Rule Same Sex Marriage is a Constitutional Right

UPDATED BELOW With comment from the governor

NM Supreme Court hears case in October
Most observers, even opponents of same sex marriage, predicted this would happen, but this morning the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that same sex couples have the same right to get married as anyone.

Justice Edward Chavez wrote in the court’s opinion that while none of New Mexico’s marriage statutes specifically prohibits same-gender marriages, existing state laws have had the effect of prohibiting same-gender couples from civil marriage.

“Because same-gender couples … are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional. Accordingly, New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of marriage laws, unless the proponents of the legislation — the opponents of same-gender marriage — prove that the discrimination caused by the legislation is substantially related to an important government interest.”

The national Human Rights Campaign said in a news release, "With lesbian and gay couples having married over the past several months in many New Mexico counties, today the state Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex couples throughout the state to continue making lifelong commitments through marriage.  This makes New Mexico the first state in the Southwest with marriage equality and the 17th state nationwide."

Update: 3:30 pm Governor Susana Martinez's office just sent me this statement from the governor about the decision:

 “My personal views on this issue are well-known, and I’m confident that most New Mexicans believe, like I do, that it should have been settled by a vote of the people. Instead, the Supreme Court stepped in and rendered their decision. While there will surely be intense debate about this decision moving forward, I encourage New Mexicans to continue to respect one another in their discourse, as this is an important issue for many New Mexicans on both sides. As we move forward, I am hopeful that we will not be divided, as we must come together to tackle very pressing issues, like reforming education and growing our economy, in the weeks and months ahead.”

There will be more on this in tomorrow's New Mexican.

The complete decision is below: