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ACLU and NCLR file marriage equality lawsuit in New Mexico state court

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico and the National Center for Lesbian Rights file a lawsuit in a New Mexico state court on behalf of two lesbian couples alleging that New Mexico’s refusal to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the state’s constitution.

The lawsuit, called Griego v. Oliver, is filed just days after Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, City Councilor Patti Bushee and City Attorney Geno Zamora announce in a press conference that New Mexico’s laws, as written, can be interpreted to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses, and that a resolution calling for marriage equality will be introduced at the next city council meeting, on March 27.

In their complaint, the couples, Rose Griego and Kim Kiel of Santa Fe and Miriam Rand and Ona Porter of Albuquerque, argue that New Mexico’s marriage laws and the New Mexico Constitution contain no explicit ban on marriage rights for same-sex couples, and that marriage equality should be recognized in the state.  The women’s suit comes in response to a refusal by Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver to issue marriage licenses to the two couples.

The couples’ suit, filed in the Second Judicial District Court, argues that New Mexico’s lack of marriage equality violates the New Mexico Constitution on five counts:

  • 1) It denies same-sex couples equal protection under the law and discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • 2) It violates the state constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment by discriminating on the basis of sex.
  • 3) It denies same-sex couples’ due process rights “to marry, to privacy, to freedom of intimate association, and to other fundamental liberties”
  • 4) It deprives couples of their right to freedom of speech and expressive association.
  • 5) It violates the state constitution’s provision regarding the “natural, inherent and inalienable rights” of all citizens to “seek[] and obtain[] safety and happiness.”

In their complaint, the plaintiffs ask the court to rule that any refusal of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New Mexico is unconstitutional and to direct county clerks to authorize the issuance of licenses to all couples regardless of sexual orientation.

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