NCLR filed a lawsuit on behalf of couples Rose Griego and Kim Kiel, Miriam Rand and Ona Porter, A.D. Joplin and Greg Gomez, Therese Councilor and Tanya Struble, and Monica Leaming and Cecilia Taulbee who were denied marriage licenses by New Mexico’s Bernalillo County Clerk.
The lawsuit, filed in state court in Albuquerque, alleged that the New Mexico marriage statutes and New Mexico Constitution did not bar same-sex couples from marrying, and therefore the State of New Mexico should issue civil marriage licenses to any same-sex couple who applied for one. In addition to NCLR, the couples were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Mexico, the law firm Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard.
In a unanimous decision on December 19, 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the New Mexico Constitution required the state to allow same-sex couples to marry. The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to otherwise qualified same-sex couples and that the State of New Mexico must respect the marriages of all same-sex couples, including those who married before the decision.
Writing for the court, Justice Edward Chavez said that “barring 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.”
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in NCLR’s Tennessee marriage case and cases from three other states affirming the freedom to marry in every state and U.S. territory.