The New Mexico Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] on Thursday that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The court's decision comes only a few months after a New Mexico trial judge ordered district court clerks to begin granting marriage licenses [JURIST report] to same-sex couples in Bernalillo County, the largest county in New Mexico. In a unanimous ruling, the state Supreme Court found that there was no substantial connection between the government's purported interests in fostering procreation and family stability and its refusal to allow same-sex marriage:
We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children if they choose to raise children together, and their property. Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the government interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified.New Mexico becomes the seventeenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder].
Just six months after the Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report], a number of states passed legislation to legalize same-sex marriage and several states permitted judicial action to advance in their courts. In November Illinois became the sixteenth US state to legalize same-sex marriage, joined by Hawaii [JURIST reports] the same month. Also in November a federal judge in Pennsylvania denied motions [JURIST report] to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage and scheduled a trial date for June 2014. Similarly, a lawsuit in Ohio will proceed and a suit was brought in November in Idaho [JURIST reports].