US: Civil rights groups aim for New Mexico Supreme Court to legalise equal marriage
A campaign to have the Supreme Court in the US state of New Mexico, legalise equal marriage has been started by several civil rights groups.
Leading the campaign is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, which has been joined by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer and Brown PC and Albuquerque attorneys Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard and Lynn Peris.
The campaign aims to use a legal action know as a writ of mandamus, which would have the Supreme Court resolve the issue of same-sex marriage without having to wait for lower courts to rule first.
The coalition of civil rights groups noted that marriage was already gender-neutral in the state’s definition, and will petition the court directly because of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act last week.
Marriage in New Mexico is currently defined as “a civil contract, for which the consent of the contracting parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential,” and state law only prohibits marriage “based on age and degree of familial relationship between the contracting parties.”
The Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico Peter Simonson, said:“The United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn DOMA has increased our sense of urgency to clarify the ability of same-sex couples to marry in New Mexico,”
“With all barriers to federal recognition removed, our State cannot stand by as thousands of same-sex couples, many of whom were married out of state, continue to be denied those protections.”
Gary King, the Attorney General of New Mexico, said the DOMA ruling did “not have an immediate impact on New Mexico law.” He did concede, however, that the ruling would have some indirect impacts on state law.
“I think the language in today’s DOMA/Windsor ruling should be quite helpful to our courts in determining the constitutionality of New Mexico’s statutes that prevent same sex marriage,” he continued.
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