[JURIST] A judge for the Second Judicial District Court of New Mexico [official website] on Tuesday ordered district court clerks to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Bernalillo County, the largest county in New Mexico, in accordance with a Monday ruling [order, PDF] that held that the refusal to grant marriage licenses to these couples is in violation of the state’s constitution. Judge Alan Malott stated in his ruling that the refusal to grant same-sex couples marriage licenses continues an “unfortunate, intolerable pattern” of discrimination against same-sex couples. County clerks in three of the state’s 33 counties have now been ordered to grant marriage licenses [AP report] to same-sex couples wishing to obtain one. It is uncertain what impact, if any, the ruling will have on the state’s other 30 counties. Regarding Monday’s ruling and Tuesday’s order, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico (ACLU) [advocacy website] Peter Simonson stated [ACLU news release], “Our state is now on the brink of joining the growing list of states who live and honor the values of family, liberty and love. Every family in this state is made richer by this step toward justice for all.”
New Mexico is the most recent state to take legal action regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] in the wake of the recent US Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor [SCOTUSblog backgrounder; JURIST report]. The court ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 that Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) [text; JURIST news archive] is unconstitutional. The ruling did not create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, but it entitles couples in lawfully recognized same-sex marriages to certain federal benefits. Last week the Texas Supreme Court [official website] announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts. In July the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit [JURIST report] in Pennsylvania on behalf of 21 residents who wish to marry their same-sex partner or who are seeking recognition by the state of their out-of-state same-sex marriage. In March Vermont’s House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would require out-of-state employers to provide the same health care coverage to same-sex couples as employees with an opposite-sex spouse. Also in March the Colorado House of Representative voted in favor of a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize civil unions in the state.