This has been a great week for marriage equality in New Mexico. A court ruled Monday that clerks in Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties had to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. Clerks in three other counties quickly said that they would follow suit. The county clerk in Dona Ana county already began issuing licenses on his own last week. Marriages started in Albuquerque on Tuesday. That means that more than half the state’s population lives in places where it’s possible for same-sex couples to get married.
Which is great. And confusing. Because it’s not entirely clear what is happening with the rest of the state. Attorney General Gary King says he won’t appeal the court decision, which was limited to just two counties. As for the remaining 28 counties that haven’t announced their intentions: well, apparently, until a court says otherwise, they can decide on their own what they want to do.
So marriage equality is legal in New Mexico is legal. Except where it’s not. Which makes New Mexico the 14th state to approve marriage equality. Or possibly the 13.5th state.
All this messiness will eventually get resolved, and pretty clearly in the right direction. But it will take a while. The state Supreme Court has signaled that it’s in no hurry to take the issue on. Marriage law in the state is decentralized to begin with, because there really are no state laws regulating marriage. All of this creates a hodge-podge of local decisions that ultimately add up to the Lawyer Full Employment Act.
Just remember, though: the current battle over marriage equality took off because of the action of a single county: San Francisco. It was a bumpy ride sometimes, but look at where we ended up.
Photo credit: ACLU of New Mexico