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 officials.

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 civil rights.”

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.

(Related: Gay marriage advocates turn focus to Illinois as fall session opens.)