The New Mexico Supreme Court on
Wednesday heard arguments in a case which seeks to legalize gay
marriage in the state.
County clerks asked the state's highest
court to clarify whether state law prohibits gay couples from
marrying after an Albuquerque district judge ruled in late August
that it does not.
The debate was ignited by Dona Ana
County Clerk Lynn Ellins, who announced on August 21 that New
Mexico's marriage laws, which are phrased in a gender-neutral manner,
do not prohibit gay couples from marrying and independently began
issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Seven counties,
representing nearly 60 percent of the state's population, have joined
Dona Ana in issuing such licenses, some by court order. Nearly 1,500
such licenses have been issued statewide, according to state
Wednesday's hearing lasted roughly 2
hours. A decision is not expected for several weeks.
Plaintiffs in the case are being
represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
Their attorney, Maureen Sanders, told
the justices that they had an opportunity to “protect important
Alliance Defending Freedom and the
nearly two dozen former and current lawmakers – all of whom are
Republicans except one – the Christian conservative group is
representing warned the justices that “redefining marriage” to
include gay couples would break the “inherent link between
procreation and marriage.”
Sanders responded that marriage is
about love and commitment not just a “vehicle for procreation.”
New Mexico Assistant Attorney General
Sean Cunniff asked the court to reject the argument that marriage
should be an opposite-gender institution to protect procreation.
The hearing comes two days after New
Jersey became the 14th state to legalize gay nuptials.
Lawmakers in Illinois and Hawaii are also considering the issue.
marriage advocates turn focus to Illinois as fall session opens.)