Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and several city officials held a press conference announcing that gay couples should be allowed to marry in New Mexico because the state’s marriage law is gender-neutral.
“It’s time to push this issue,” Mayor Coss said at the event on March 19.
City Attorney Geno Zamora and City Council member Patti Bushee, who is openly gay, are two city officials backing a proposed bill to start handing out marriage licenses to gay couples.
“Marriage law in New Mexico is gender-neutral and does not define marriage as between a man and a woman,” said Zamora said in a statement. “New Mexico already recognizes valid marriages performed in other states between same-sex couples; it would violate our state’s constitution to deny equal rights in our own families.”
Verbatim, the New Mexico constitution defines marriage as follows:
“Marriage is contemplated by the law as a civil contract, for which the consent of the contracting parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential.”
For her part, Councilor Bushee said getting the bill approved won’t be easy, and expects the issue to reach the state Supreme Court.
“It is disheartening to me to be creating laws for my community for 19 years and not be treated equally in the eyes of New Mexico law,” Bushee said. “We are the last group allowed to be legally discriminated against. This is a civil rights issue--it's time for Santa Fe to lead the way.”
Geraldine Salazar, a Santa Fe County clerk, told the Santa Fe New Mexican that she wants to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but that she can’t do it until the situation is clarified.
“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.
LGBT rights organization Freedom to Marry has been pointing out the neutrality of the marriage wording in the New Mexico constitution since 2011.
WATCH: The press conference by Santa Fe Mayor David Coss