(Albuquerque, NM, September 6, 2013)—Today, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued an order setting a hearing for October 23, 2013 to consider a request by the New Mexico Association of Counties that the court immediately decide whether New Mexico law permits same-sex couples to marry. All 33 county clerks in the state joined in the Association’s request that the Supreme Court resolve the issue.
The counties’ request to the Supreme Court was filed in response to a case brought by six same-sex couples represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU-NM), the national ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and local attorneys. On September 3, Judge Alan Mallot of the Second Judicial District Court in Albuquerque issued a declaratory judgment against all 33 county clerks, ruling that the New Mexico Constitution requires issuance of marriage licenses to otherwise-qualified same-sex couples. The counties requested the Supreme Court to immediately review Judge Mallot’s order in order to resolve several pending cases around the state concerning the issue of marriage for same-sex couples.
Today’s order by the Supreme Court invited the six plaintiff couples to respond to the counties’ request by September 23 and to appear at oral argument October 23. The couples will argue that the Court should accept the counties’ request and immediately extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples statewide.
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s order and hope that it will lead to a speedy decision establishing the freedom to marry for all same-sex couples in New Mexico,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Now is the time for New Mexico to treat same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect as all other couples and fully respect their lifelong commitments to each other and their families. We look forward to presenting the strongest possible arguments on behalf of our clients and all New Mexico same-sex couples. We thank the Association of Counties for asking the Supreme Court to resolve these crucial issues immediately.”
Said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter, Esq.: “Every New Mexico court that has considered the issue has concluded that New Mexico law requires that same-sex couples have the same freedom to marry as others and deserve equal protection under the law. We are grateful to the New Mexico Supreme Court for recognizing the importance of this issue and putting the case on a fast track. We look forward to the day when all families are treated with equal dignity and respect, and all children grow up in a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have the same legal protections and freedoms as others.”
In addition to the ACLU of New Mexico, the national ACLU, and NCLR, the six same-sex couples are represented by the Sutin Law Firm, and Albuquerque attorneys Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard,and Lynn Perls.