Many county clerks in New Mexico are at odds about issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state is currently divided on the issue because New Mexico has not legalized or banned same-sex marriage. According to Reuters, all 33 counties in the state have petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case. County clerks are seeking a clear answer on the state’s stance.
If same-sex marriage is legalized in New Mexico, couples will be able to take advantage of 1,000 marriage benefits generally specific for heterosexual unions.
On September 6, all five justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court decided to review the legality of same-sex marriage after several counties began to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court has set a date for October 23 to rule on the issue.
If the state Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is constitutional, New Mexico will be the 14th state to support the cause. The District of Columbia also allows same-sex marriage. Since August, 900 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued in New Mexico by various county clerks.
One of the biggest problems in New Mexico regarding the same-sex marriage debate is the confusion it has caused among county clerks. Some believe they can analyze state laws themselves while others are just hoping for direction from a higher court.
Earlier in 2013 the New Mexico Supreme Court justices decided to let the lower courts handle this ruling. However, several district judges began to offer varying judgments. This divided the state and caused problems for some county clerks. Republican lawmakers even filed a lawsuit against a Dona County clerk for issuing marriage licenses in August.
Regardless of stance, both supporters and opponents are ready for a ruling by the state’s highest court.
“I think it’s excellent,” Rep. Anna Crook told Reuters. “It’s been absolute chaos. We need to have a ruling one way or the other instead of ‘my county can, yours can’t.'”