US: New Mexico county clerks urge further clarification on equal marriage law
Several County Clerks in the US state of New Mexico have joined together to urge the Supreme Court in the state to rule on equal marriage, following a district court ruling earlier this week.
An attorney representing the Association of Counties filed a motion to intervene current lawsuits in the Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. The issue of equal marriage has been thrown into flux since on Monday a District judge ruled that same-sex couples should not be denied marriage licences.
The lawsuit filed by the Association opens the door for the Supreme Court to issue a broader ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage in the state.
The New Mexico constitution does not expressively prohibit same-sex couples from marrying but no recognition of same-sex relationships previously existed within the state.
“All the clerks were unanimous in saying, ‘We want answers from the supreme court,'” said attorney Steve Kopelman.
He went on to say that inconsistency in who is permitted to issue same-sex marriage licences will create future legal issues. It is unclear when the issue might go before the Supreme Court.
State District Judge Alan Malott handed down the ruling on Monday, which stated that equal marriage should be made legal, as he ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriages is a form of sexual discrimination.
Six out of the 33 counties in the state have now issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. Other county clerks are awaiting further guidance on how to proceed.
Republican lawmakers in the US state of New Mexico have said they are considering legal action over a judge’s decision to make a broad ruling that same-sex couples should not be excluded from being issue marriage certificates.
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Governor Susana Martinez said that she believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be decided by the population of New Mexico, rather than courts or legislature.
The Democrats said that they believed that marriages from the certificates since the ruling will stand, and that they will fight legal action by GOP lawmakers.
The county clerk for Doña Ana County, Lynn Ellins, released a statement last Wednesday saying that New Mexico’s marriage laws were “gender neutral” and to ban same-sex couples from marrying violated the United States Constitution and he went onto say that “I see no reason to make committed couples in Dona Ana County wait another minute to marry.”
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