Ruling may open door for same-sex marriages across state

Posted at: 08/26/2013 10:33 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

For decades, advocates have argued that same-sex marriages should be legal. But the last week in New Mexico has been quite a ride, and now nearly half the state's population is entitled to what they call a basic civil right.

In short, District Court Judge Alan Malott ruled that our state's constitution allows for same-sex marriages and forbids discrimination.

His order to Santa Fe and Bernalillo County Clerks is clear.

"…issue a marriage license upon application from each couple without regard to the couple's sexual orientation or the genders of its members," Malott ruled.

Most in the courtroom hugged and applauded after the ruling. They believe marriage equality has finally hit New Mexico.

But, not all of New Mexico. Judge Malott's ruling only extends to Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. In those counties, marriages are supported by law and validated by the state.

It's a grey area for Doña Ana County because the clerk there opened up gay marriage without a court's support.

"As we've discussed before, there is some lack in clarity in all of this, but there is more certainty because we have the court order against the Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County Clerk," attorney Maureen Sanders said.

County clerks across the state are now playing by different sets of rules. Most agree that a final decision has to be made so that every New Mexico county is treated the same.

The way to do that is for a higher court to make a ruling on the issue. Lawyers say opponents need to challenge the marriages so that the state Supreme Court is forced to take the issue on.