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New Mexico’s GOP legislators file brief opposing same-sex marriage in state supreme court case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

The Great Seal of the State of New Mexico
The Great Seal of the State of New Mexico

Dozens of Republican state legislators have submitted an amicus brief to the New Mexico supreme court in opposition to same-sex marriage. According to the Associated Press, pro-equality groups like the ACLU of New Mexico have also submitted briefs; those raise arguments in favor of marriage equality.

EqualityOnTrial doesn’t have the brief yet, [UPDATE: brief below] but the reports point to a few arguments made by state Republican lawmakers, and they appear to be the same as most other legal arguments in opposition to same-sex marriage. They write that the courts should exercise caution:

The lawmakers said that “the judiciary should exercise caution when asked to divine fundamental and important constitutional rights not expressly provided in the Constitution’s text.”

And although New Mexico doesn’t explicitly ban or affirm marriage equality, the group of Republican legislators argue that state law should be construed against same-sex couples wh want to marry:

the GOP lawmakers said the law bans same-sex marriage because state statutes contain a marriage license application with sections for male and female applications and there are other provisions in law that refer to “husband” and “wife.

The new briefs are being filed in anticipation of the state supreme court’s hearing on October 23. Filings were due Monday, September 23. Eight counties in the state had begun offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the state’s highest courts agreed to decide the issue.

The pro-equality groups pointed out the harms to same-sex couples that come from denying them marriage:

In contrast, the attorneys for six same-sex couples who filed a lawsuit earlier this year against the Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County clerks argued that denying the couples access to marriage benefits was unconstitutional.

“Without access to marriage, same-sex couples in New Mexico cannot enter into an officially recognized and protected family relationship, leaving them with no way to assume full responsibility for one another and no meaningful protection against being treated as legal strangers by third parties and the state,” the attorneys argued in their brief.

The attorneys representing the same-sex couples are from the ACLU-New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and local law offices.

New Mexico’s attorney general is siding with the same-sex couples in the case. His office believes the state statutes involving marriage are unconstitutional under the state’s equal protection clause. Earlier, he had issued a non-binding opinion that New Mexico statutes don’t require same-sex marriage, but that denying marriage to same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

The hearing is on October 23, and according to the Albuquerque Journal, the case has attracted enough interest that overflow rooms will be set up outside the court room.

Update (3:00 p.m. Eastern): Below is the legislators’ brief, via EQCF’s Scribd.  (H/t to Kathleen)

[scribd id=170631922 key=key-10q2e326jp1m8akjqwfc mode=scroll]

1 Comment

  • 1. Updated: LGBT legal orgs &hellip  |  September 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    […] today, Scottie wrote about a legal brief filed by a group of Republican New Mexico state legislators with the state […]

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