The New Mexico Legislature left town without acting on a constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage, so Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and a City Council member are encouraging county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples anyway. And they insist it is legal to do so.
Coss and Councilor Patti Bushee say they will introduce a resolution March 27 “recognizing” that same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico.
In a news release, they cited recent polls showing support for same-sex marriage among Americans is at an all-time high.
“Santa Fe is a city of respect, acceptance, and diversity that embraces all of our residents,” Coss said. “I sponsored this resolution because all loving, committed couples should have the right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Bushee, who is a lesbian, called it a civil rights issue.
“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,” she said in a statement. “We are the last group allowed to be legally discriminated against.”
Bushee and Coss also released a memo from City Attorney Geno Zamora, who said same-sex marriage is legal because state law defining marriage is gender-neutral and lacks any prohibition on same-sex marriage.
Zamora said the state already recognizes same-sex marriages from other states and the New Mexico Constitution requires equal treatment on the basis of sex.
Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said she would love to issue licenses to same-sex couples, but “under the current law I am not free and clear to do so. And I am not going to play politics for a few hours.”
Salazar said she must follow the rules and laws of the courts and the Legislature, not an opinion from a city attorney.
Phil Sisneros, a spokesman for New Mexico Attorney General Gary King, said his office has not weighed in on the specific question of whether same sex-marriage is legal, and “to my knowledge, there has not been a formal request for an AG’s Opinion.”