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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01
New Mexico can recognize out-of-state Gay marriages, attorney general says
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New Mexico can recognize out-of-state Gay marriages, attorney general says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has issued an opinion stating that same-sex marriages concluded in another state could be recognized under New Mexico law.

King announced his opinion on January 4.

'A comprehensive legal analysis by my office concludes that valid same-sex marriages in other states would likely be valid in New Mexico,' he said.

'While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico,' King wrote in his opinion.

While 40 states forbid recognition of same-sex marriages, King says that New Mexico's law does 'not explicitly address the recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions,' according to the release announcing the opinion.

The attorney general's opinion also addresses the impact of federal law.

'The federal [Defense of Marriage Act] authorizes states to prohibit the recognition of out-of-state, same-sex marriages. While many states have enacted such a prohibition, New Mexico has not,' King's opinion says.

The opinion notes that Maryland's attorney general recently spoke to the same issue and concluded, 'Maryland would likely recognize an out-of-state, same-sex marriage despite a state law that precludes same-sex marriage.'

King's opinion notes that five states plus Washington, D.C., currently recognize same sex marriages as legal, which 'increases the likelihood that New Mexico residents of the same sex who married while traveling or who move to New Mexico after marrying in a jurisdiction that allows same-sex marriages will seek to have their marriages recognized in this state.'

Currently only New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland do not perform same-sex marriages, but do recognize them if they are valid in other jurisdictions.

King issued his opinion at the request of New Mexico State Rep. Al Park (D-Albuquerque).

A law recognizing marriages in other states has been on New Mexico books for decades, Park told the Santa Fe New Mexican. But, he said, 'Some [same-sex couples] trying to utilize it have not been successful.'

'I predict this [opinion] will generally fire up opponents,' Park concluded. 'My guess is that you'll see opponents trying to pass a Defense of Marriage Act in the next session.'

Associated Press reported that Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington) will introduce a constitutional amendment during the upcoming legislative session to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.

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