New Mexico neither explicitly permits nor prohibits gay marriage, nor does it offer civil unions or domestic partnerships to same-sex couples. However, according to a spokesman for the attorney general, the marriage statute does not specify gender and is therefore “sufficiently vague.”
Mayor David Coss (right) is personally invested in this issue and wants equal rights for all of his children, including his lesbian daughter. “As a dad, I’d just like to walk her down the aisle some day, and I will never get to do that if we don’t move on these issues in Santa Fe,” Coss said during a press conference. “Santa Fe is ready. New Mexico is ready, I know. Our country is ready to move on this.”
Coss and City Attorney Geno Zamora teamed up to prove that nothing is stopping county clerks from making some same-sex couples very happy. “The law supports this today,” Zamora said during the press conference. “Same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico.”
However, County Clerk Geraldine Salazar feels she is not “free and clear” to issue gay marriage licenses under current law, though she would “love” to do so.
In 2004, a Sandoval County clerk issued marriage licenses to 64 same-sex couples before being ordered to stop by then-state attorney general Patricia Madrid, who deemed the licenses invalid. So Patti Bushee, the City Council’s longest serving and only openly gay member, is probably right to believe that this will eventually end up before the New Mexico Supreme Court.
“It’s the forefront of civil rights,” she explained. “We are the last group that is allowed to legally be discriminated against.”
The City Council will vote on a resolution based on Zamora’s findings on March 27. Though the resolution won’t carry any legal weight, Zamora wants to send a message to the Supreme Court, which will hear challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8 next week.
“The decision was made … we cannot wait any longer to protect the rights of our brothers and sisters, our colleagues and our community members,” said Zamora, who actually has a gay brother. “It’s very important for cities and city attorney’s offices to enter this debate recognizing equal rights for their citizens.”