WASHINGTON — The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously decided Thursday that same-sex couples are allowed to marry, a requirement of the state's constitution.
First, looking at the state's statutes, which contain neither an explicit grant of nor a ban on same-sex couples marrying, Justices Edward Chávez wrote:
We conclude that although none of New Mexico's marriage statutes specifically prohibit same-gender marriages, when read as a whole, the statutes have the effect of precluding same-gender couples from marrying and benefitting from the rights, protections, and responsibilities that flow from a civil marriage.
However, they then concluded:
[B}arring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.
New Mexico is the 17th state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Due to the unique status of New Mexico's laws, several counties already had been allowing same-sex couples there to marry.