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Marriage Equality Already the Law in New Mexico, Santa Fe Officials Say

By Trudy Ring

New Mexico, nicknamed the Land of Enchantment, is also a land of equality for same-sex couples, at least in the opinion of several Santa Fe city officials.

The city’s mayor and other leaders held a press conference today to announce that they believe nothing in state law prevents the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples, and they want to pass a resolution urging county clerks to begin granting the licenses immediately, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

“It’s time to push this issue,” Mayor David Coss said at the event, where he was joined by City Council member Patti Bushee and city attorney Geno Zamora. Zamora and his staff recently prepared a legal opinion stating, “New Mexico’s statutory definition of marriage is gender-neutral. Since New Mexico does not define marriage as between a man and a woman, and since New Mexico does not prohibit same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage is permitted in New Mexico.”

Coss, who is the father of a lesbian daughter, and Bushee, the only openly gay City Council member, plan to put a resolution before the council declaring same-sex marriage legal in the state and calling on county clerks to issue the licenses. They expect some resistance from the clerks and other officials, however. In 2004 the Sandoval County clerk granted marriage licenses to 64 gay couples before the state attorney general ordered her to stop and invalidated the licenses.

Santa Fe County clerk Geraldine Salazar told the New Mexican that she would love to issue licenses to same-sex couples but believes current law does not allow her to do so. “The legislature creates the laws and the judges interpret the laws, and I as a county clerk do not create or interpret laws,” Salazar said. Bushee said she expects the issue to eventually reach the state Supreme Court.

Coss added that he would like to see his daughter having the same right to marriage as anyone else. “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,” he said. “Santa Fe is ready. New Mexico is ready, I know. Our country is ready to move on this.”

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