Marriage Equality USA

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State of New Mexico
All in this Region

Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2013. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)
  • Same-sex marriage is still forbidden in the Navajo Nation by the Diné Marriage Act of 2005.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

  • In February 2004, during the Winter of Love, a number of marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in Sandoval County.
  • New Mexico's marriage equality history is unique. In August 2013, Lynn Ellins, County Clerk of Dona Ana County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One-by-one district judges began ordering other county clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. Eventually the county clerks through-out the state voted unanimously to ask the New Mexico Supreme Court to rule on the legality of same-sex marriage, for the entire state. In written arguments filed with the court in July, the state Attorney General Gary King, told the court he believed that a prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and that he would not defend the stat's ban. The NM Supreme Court held a hearing on their petition on 23 October 2013. On 19 December 2013, the NM Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Griego v. Oliver holding that marriage licenses must be issued to couples without respect to gender, making New Mexico the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Legislation - Pending

None.

Legislation - Enacted

None.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

Sharer v. Ellins

Case #:
Date Filed: 29 August 2013
Ruling Date: 19 December 2013

Description:

  • Suit filed by filed by 7 NM state lawmakers (Senators Sharer and Neville, and Representatives Gallegos, Hall, Herrell, Roch, and Strickler) to stop Doña Ana County from issuing civil marriage licenses to same-gender couples.
  • 3 September 2013, another 8 Republican lawmakers joined the lawsuit.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Newton and Maria Thibodeau v. Los Alamos County Clerk Sharon Stover

Case #:
Date Filed: 29 August 2013
Ruling Date: 19 December 2013

Description:

  • A lesbian couple sued after being denied a marriage license.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Carolyn VanHousen and Gail Gering v. Sandoval County Clerk Eileen Garbagni

Case #:
Date Filed: 29 August 2013
Ruling Date: 19 December 2013

Description:

  • A lesbian couple sued after being denied a marriage license.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Stark v. Martinez

Case #:
Date Filed: 2013
Ruling Date: 28 August 2013

Description:

  • 28 August 2013, New Mexico District Judge Jeff F. McElroy ordered Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses or to appear to show cause why she could not. The clerk said she would not contest the order and would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Hanna v. Salazar

Case #: D-101-CV-2013-1525
Date Filed: 6 June 2013
Ruling Date: 22 August 2013

Description:

  • On June 6, 2013, Alexander Hanna and Yon Hudson, represented by Brian Egolf, Kate Ferlic and John Day, filed a lawsuit in district court against the Santa Fe County Clerk and the state attorney general for not allowing them to be issued a marriage license.
  • 22 August 2013, New Mexico District Judge Sarah Singleton ordered Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples or show cause why the county should not comply.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Griego v. Oliver

Case #: 34,306
Date Filed: 21 March 2013
Ruling Date: 19 December 2013

Description:

  • Rose Griego, her partner, along with another lesbian couple, as represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and others, filed a lawsuit in State District Court in Albuquerque challenging the Bernalillo County clerk's refusal to issue them marriage licenses.
  • 19 December 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous decision that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples must be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.
Elane Photography v. Vanessa Willock

Case #: 06-12-20-0685
Date Filed: 2007
Ruling Date: 22 August 2013

Description:

  • In 2006, Vanessa Willock attempted to hire Elane Photography in Albuquerque to photograph a commitment ceremony that she and her partner were planning. Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography, turned Willock away, refusing to provide services, claiming that doing so violates her Christian beliefs.
  • the state Human Rights Commission found that the company was guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation, in violation of the state’s public accommodation law.
  • June 2012 the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld the Commission’s finding.
  • 22 August 2013 the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that there is no right to violate the State's nondiscrimination law.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

None.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • A March 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that 47% of New Mexico voters thought that same-sex marriage should be legal, while 45% thought it should be illegal and 7% were not sure. A separate question in the same survey found that 74% of New Mexico voters supported legal recognition of same-sex couples, with 45% supporting same-sex marriage, 29% supporting civil unions, 24% opposing all legal recognition, and 2% not sure. Poll Details
  • 18-22 September 2013, in a poll conducted by the Anzalone Liszt Grove Research for organizations backing the campaign “Why Marriage Matters New Mexico" between, 51% of polled voters responded in favor of same-sex marriage with 42% opposed to the idea. The remaining 7 percent didn’t know or refused to answer. The company surveyed 502 registered voters statewide by phone. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points. News Source