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New Mexico High Court Hears Arguments in Same-Sex Marriage Battle

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by Publius
Posted October 23, 2013, 1:11 PM

According to Reuters:

The New Mexico Supreme Court began hearing arguments on Wednesday on whether same-sex couples should be allowed to wed in a state where such unions are, for the time being, neither expressly recognized nor prohibited by law.

Stepping into an intensifying and often bitter national debate over same-sex matrimony, the court agreed last month to settle the matter for New Mexico as a whole after some counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Currently eight New Mexico counties allow gay couples to marry, and more than 900 couples have filed for same-sex marriage licenses since clerks in those jurisdictions started issuing them in recent months, some voluntarily and some under court order.

At least two New Mexico judges have upheld gay marriage under provisions of the state constitution, including cases that apply to counties encompassing the state's largest city, Albuquerque, and the state capital, Santa Fe.

Meanwhile, a number of Republican state lawmakers have filed a lawsuit challenging the authority of the clerk of Dona Ana County, which includes the state's second-most populous town, Las Cruces, to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples there.

The debate reached a crescendo when all 33 county clerks in the state joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights in petitioning New Mexico's high court to decide the issue on a statewide basis.

All five justices concurred last month in ordering a review of the case, and the arguments got underway on Wednesday in a courtroom filled to capacity.

Wednesday's oral arguments come two days after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican seen as having national political aspirations, agreed to drop his appeal of a court decision that effectively legalized gay marriage in his state. . . .

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