USA, New Mexico: GOP Threatens Constitutional Marriage Equality Ban

Written by scott on December 21st, 2013

New Mexico MapOn to our second marriage equality state of the week, New Mexico!

In the wake of the marriage equality ruling there, the County Clerk and her deputy both resigned rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The Advocate reports:

Roosevelt County clerk Donna Carpenter and her lead deputy, Janet Collins, turned in their resignations this morning, according to ProgressNowNM, a progressive advocacy group that fought for marriage equality. Sources confirmed to the group that the two officials’ objections to same-sex marriage were behind the move.

The Navajo Nation, within the state of New Mexico, said the ruling has no effect on its own ban on same sex weddings, for now.

LGBTQ nation reports:

A Navajo Nation official says the tribe’s own law prohibiting same-sex marriage isn’t affected by the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples in New Mexico. Navajo-NationDeswood Tome, an adviser to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, told The Daily Times that the tribe’s own law prohibiting same-sex marriage still stands. “We are upholding the law as currently enacted,” Tome said.

State Senator William Sharer, a longtime marriage equality opponent, is vowing to push for a constitutional ban on marriage equality.

On Top Magazine reports:

New Mexico State Senator William Sharer has introduced legislation aimed at altering the state’s constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual union. Sharer filed his bill Thursday in reaction to a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in the state.

The Republican lawmaker told ABC Albuquerque affiliate KOAT that he drafted the proposed amendment before the court issued its ruling. “I had it drafted weeks ago and it was just sitting there waiting until I said go,” Sharer said. “[Gay marriage opponents] need to get on the phone and start calling and emailing their legislators.”

Yeah, good luck with that. They’re having a hard time getting a new constitutional ban off the ground in Indiana, and Indiana is a much redder state than New Mexico.

The Week thinks the ruling may not have much affect on other states:

But though the court cited the Supreme Court decision that struck down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act in its own opinion, it also noted that its interpretation of that and other rulings did not necessarily mean other states should follow suit. The court wrote: Interpreting our statutes to authorize committed same-gender couples to enter into civil marriage will grant them the rights and privileges available to opposite-gender married couples in approximately one thousand statutes and federal regulations that refer to a person’s marital status, thereby avoiding a constitutional challenge on that basis.

And Scottie Thomaston at Equality on Trial analyzes the ruling:

In summary, the court held that the current marriage laws should be read the way the legislature intended, and that means they apply only to opposite-sex couples and same-sex marriage isn’t allowed by statute. Then the court determined that the ban is a classification based on sexual orientation and under equal protection review, classifications on that type should be based on “intermediate scrutiny”, a form of heightened judicial scrutiny. Instead of gay plaintiffs bringing a lawsuit and having to explain why every rationale is invalid (the most lenient standard of judicial review), under intermediate scrutiny, the state defendants would have to explain how the law bears a substantial relationship to an important government objective. And under that standard, the court held the defenses for the ban don’t hold up, so the ban is unconstitutional.

Predictably, the Republican governor Susana Martinez was not happy with the ruling.

On Top Magazine reports:

Martinez said in statement that the issue “should have been settled by a vote of the people. Instead, the Supreme Court stepped in and rendered their decision.” “As we move forward, I am hopeful that we will not be divided, as we must come together to tackle very pressing issues,” she added.

Ever notice how slippery our opponents are on this issue? If we win the courts, it should’ve been decided by the legislature or the people. If people vote for it, the legislature should vote to undo it. If the legislature votes for it, it should be undone by the courts or should’ve been sent to a vote of the people. I’m beginning to think the only way we’d ever really win the argument is if we could win a state by all three methods simultaneously.

In any case, marriage equality is the law the land in New Mexico and Utah, for now. What an amazing week.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in New Mexico.


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