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Updated: LGBT legal orgs file brief in support of marriage equality with New Mexico Supreme Court

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New Mexico state sealEarlier today, Scottie wrote about a legal brief filed by a group of Republican New Mexico state legislators with the state Supreme Court arguing against marriage equality.

Those legislators’ filing came in response to a brief filed yesterday by the ACLU, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Browne APC arguing that the New Mexico Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. From a press release issued by the organizations:

“Every New Mexico court that has considered our claims has agreed that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage to loving, committed same-sex couples,” said ACLU-NM Legal Director Laura Schauer Ives. “We are hopeful that the New Mexico Supreme Court will agree that same-sex couples in our communities deserve full respect and recognition of their relationships, and issue a writ to resolve all claims on constitutional grounds.”

The couples filed their freedom to marry lawsuit in March. In late August, Judge Alan Malott of the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque ordered the county clerks of Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  All 33 New Mexico County Clerks then intervened in the lawsuit and filed a petition asking the New Mexico Supreme Court to provide a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can marry. The Supreme Court ordered the six couples to file a brief in response to the petition and set oral argument for October 23.

“We agree with the 33 county clerks who say New Mexico families need certainty,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. “New Mexico lacks a state-wide, binding resolution on the question of whether same-sex couples can marry. The more than 1,000 same-sex couples who have legally married in New Mexico over the past several weeks need to know that their marriages are valid and respected.”

The legal organizations’ brief followed a unanimous request from New Mexico’s 33 county clerks asking the high court to settle the question of whether or not same-sex couples can marry in New Mexico in a final, state-wide ruling.

“The bottom line is we’re looking for a uniform answer,” Steve Kopelman, general counsel for the New Mexico Association of Counties, said at the time. “There’s a controversy here. This is not a simple issue legally. But we’re not weighing in on the moral issue. We’re weighing in on the law.”

Several amicus briefs in support of marriage equality were also filed yesterday with the court, including arguments from University of New Mexico law professors George Bach and Max Minzner, the American Psychological Association, and a group called Why Marriage Matters New Mexico, whose brief was authored by Mary Bonauto, one of America’s most prominent civil rights and LGBT rights lawyers.

The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on October 23.

Update (5:10 p.m. Eastern): Below is the full brief, via EQCF and Scribd.  Thanks, Kathleen!

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