New Mexico's Supreme Court ruled a ban on gay marriage would be unconstitutional, making it the 17th state plus the District of Columbia to recognize same-sex unions.
A number of county clerks in the state had already begun to unilaterally issue same-sex marriage licenses, since none of New Mexico's laws explicitly prohibited it. The court's ruling defines civil marriage as referring to "the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others."
"Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified," the decision said. "Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution.”
“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” the decision continued.