GAINING CLARITY

NM Court Hears Arguments In Marriage Equality Case

New Mexico is an unusual state in that the law there doesn’t explicitly ban same-sex marriages and individual county clerks can pretty much decide whether to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. So far, eight counties allow same-sex couples to marry, with about 1,500 couples applying for marriage licenses. But it’s not entirely clear on a state-wide level just how legal marriage equality is.

To put an end to the confusion,the state Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday to settle the matter once and for all. Lawyer Daniel Ivey-Soto, who represents the state’s county clerks, said his clients “are truly struggling with this issue on a daily basis.”

While it’s always dangerous to predict outcomes on the basis of questions that the justices ask, the toughest questions were reserved for James Campbell, the attorney who is representing the Republican legislators opposed to marriage equality. In particular, Campbell’s argument that marriage was about procreation didn’t cut it with at least one justice. “Marriage is much more than a vehicle for natural procreation,” Justice Richard Bosson told Campell. Bosson also noted that the state doesn’t inquire into the baby-making plans of heterosexual couples.

Republicans legislators say that a court ruling against them won’t stop them. They intend to bring the issue up as a ballot measure. “No matter what their decision is the issue will not be settled until the people speak,” state Rep. William Sharer said after the hearing. Probably not even then.