New Mexico Becomes 17th State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 19 2013 2:38 PM

New Mexico Becomes 17th State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

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Patrick Bova (R) and Jim Darby share a kiss at a ceremony where Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois marriage equality act into law making the state the 16th to allow such unions on November 20, 2013 in Chicago

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Make that 17. The Albuquerque Journal with the big news out of New Mexico:

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of same-sex couples, granting them all the same rights of marriage enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
The court’s 31-page opinion states, in part, that: “All rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.” New Mexico joins 16 other states, the District of Columbia, and several Native American tribes in recognizing same-sex unions.
After eight of the state’s 33 counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples earlier this year, county officials petitioned the court to provide a state-wide ruling. The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender, and that licenses issued to same-sex couples prior to the ruling must be recognized. More than 1,400 same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses in New Mexico since August.
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The ruling is a victory for marriage equality advocates who had been unable to secure one of equal magnitude at the legislative level in the Land of Enchantment (now that's a state nickname!). While state statutes don't explicitly weigh in on the issue—neither prohibiting nor authorizing same-sex marriage—county clerks had historically denied marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. As the Associated Press points out, the Democratic-controlled statehouse has repeatedly turned down proposals for domestic partnership laws for same-sex couples, and likewise refused a push to allow voters to decide for themselves whether or not to legalize gay marriage.

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Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.