New Mexico Becomes 17th State to Legalize Gay Marriage

Kathleen Jercich

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On December 19, New Mexico's Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the rights of same-sex couples to get married in the state. Despite the opposition's claims that gay marriage would be deterimental to "responsible procreation and childrearing," the five justices pointed out that procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law. And thanks to the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this year, New Mexico's same-sex married couples will also be entitled to federal benefits as well as state ones. The New York Times continues: In a written opinion, the court's five justices agreed that marriage rights for same-sex couples are guaranteed under the equal-protection clause of the New Mexico Constitution, amended in 1972 to state that 'equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.' … The decision capped years of failed attempts in the State Legislature to have same-sex marriage legalized, or banned. In March, six same-sex couples filed a lawsuit, bringing to court a battle that, until then, had been governed primarily by political interests.And unlike in states such as California, whose battles around the now-infamous Proposition 8 put the state's marriage equality status repeatedly into question, couples who take advantage of the new law won't have to fear it being struck down a few months later. Because the ruling was made by the state's highest court and is specific to New Mexico's constitution, it can't be subject to appeal. 

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Kathleen Jercich is an assistant editor at In These Times. Her work has appeared in Sacramento News and Review, BUST Magazine and on The Rumpus and Bitch Media blogs.
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