In July, State Attorney General Gary King noticed something that state Republicans would have preferred to keep hidden away. New Mexico law does not prohibit gay marriage. Of course, it doesn't specifically authorize it, either, but up until now, nobody has banned it. And any attempts to do so appear to be unconstitutional.
The Associated Press reports that King made the argument after the court asked him to weigh in on a lawsuit filed by a gay Santa Fe couple who were denied a marriage license. In his filing, King urged the court to approve more broadly of gay marriage rights in a ruling in favor of the men.On the strength of that, on Wednesday, Dona Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins, began issuing marriage certificates to gay couples in Las Cruces, NM. Nobody told him that he could - he simply noted that nobody could tell him that he couldn't.
"New Mexico’s guarantee of equal protection to its citizens demands that same-sex couples be permitted to enjoy the benefits of marriage in the same way and to the same extent as other New Mexico citizens," King said in the filing.
And today, in Albuquerque, a judge ordered the county clerk of the most populous county in New Mexico to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, stating that any seeming prohibitions in New Mexico statutes against same-sex marriage "are unconstitutional and unenforceable."
In his ruling, Judge Alan Malott quoted Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico State Constitution, which is pretty straight-forward (so to speak).
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall any person be denied equal protection of the laws. Equality of rights under law shall not be denied on account of the sex of any person.So now, with roughly a hundred same-sex couples legally married in the state of New Mexico, any action by the state government (or our Republican governor Susana Martinez) will be met with an almost-unwinnable lawsuit.
So it would appear that gay marriage is here to stay in New Mexico. Not through what the GOP will undoubtedly be calling "judicial activism," but simply through strict adherence to the law.
That's gonna leave a mark - a big, rainbow-colored one.