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Same-sex marriage in New Mexico: Wikis


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Legal recognition of
same-sex couples
Same-sex marriage


South Africa

Performed in some jurisdictions

Mexico: DF*
United States: CT, DC*, IA, MA, NH, VT, Coquille

Recognized, not performed

United States: CA (conditional), NY

Civil unions and
registered partnerships

Czech Republic

New Caledonia
New Zealand
Wallis and Futuna
United Kingdom

Performed in some jurisdictions

Argentina: BA, RC, RN, VCP
Australia: ACT, TAS, VIC
Mexico: COA
United States: CA, CO, HI, ME, NJ, NV, OR, WA, WI
Venezuela: ME

Recognized, not performed

Isle of Man (UK only)

Unregistered co-habitation



In some regions

United States: MD, RI

Status in other jurisdictions

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United States: AL, AS, AZ, DE, FL, GU, IL, LA, ME, MI, MN, MT, NM, NC, OH, PA, PR, RI, SC, UT, WV, WY, Native Americans


*DC (subject to Congressional review) and Mexico City same-sex marriage laws are effective from 1 March and 4 March 2010, respectively.

See also

Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage legislation
Timeline of same-sex marriage
Civil union
Domestic partnership
Registered partnership
Civil partnership
Listings by country

LGBT portal

Same-sex marriages are not performed in the state of New Mexico, which also does not provide civil unions or domestic partnerships. New Mexico is one of two states (the other being Rhode Island)[1] whose marriage laws do not explicitly condone or prohibit same-sex marriage, although New York acknowledges foreign same-sex unions.[2] Since 2003, state law has prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the state offers domestic partnership benefits to state employees.[3][4]



The definition of marriage and the validity of out-of-state marriages are given as follows in New Mexico Statutes §40-1 and §40-4.

  • 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. [5]
  • All marriages celebrated beyond the limits of this state, which are valid according to the laws of the country wherein they were celebrated or contracted, shall be likewise valid in this state, and shall have the same force as if they had been celebrated in accordance with the laws in force in this state. [6]



On February 20, 2004, at the time of the widely publicized same-sex weddings in San Francisco, Sandoval County clerk Victoria Dunlap, a married Republican with two children,[7] began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming legal justification for her action because New Mexico marriage law does not mention gender. As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, "[Dunlap] said she sought an opinion from her county attorney after she got a call earlier this week from someone asking about same-sex ceremonies. 'This has nothing to do with politics or morals, [she said]. If there are no legal grounds that say this should be prohibited, I can't withhold it . . . This office won't say no until shown it's not permissible.'"[8]

The Sandoval County courthouse was quickly thronged by same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses as the story was broadcast nationwide by the news media.[9] The number of marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples was reported by various news sources as 64, 66, 67, or 68, but a suit filed against Dunlap in July by the attorney general states 66 licenses were issued, and further states that by March 23, 64 of the couples had married "as evidenced by the return and filing of licenses and Certificates of Marriage."[10]

The same number of 66 licenses issued is stated in Dunlap's own motion filed with the Supreme Court of New Mexico.[11] News reports stated that 26 couples had been married on the courthouse steps on February 20 by two local ministers who showed up to conduct the ceremonies.[12]

By the end of the day, however, New Mexico state attorney general Patricia Madrid issued an opinion stating that the licenses were "invalid under state law,"[13] [14] and the Sandoval County clerk's office stopped issuing them at 4:15 pm that same day.

A district court judge later issued a restraining order against Dunlap, prohibiting her from issuing any further licenses to same-sex couples. Dunlap then filed a motion with the state supreme court for permission to continue issuing the licenses, but on July 8, 2004, the supreme court rejected the motion. The restraining order was never lifted,[15] and Dunlap, whose term ended on January 1, 2005, was heavily criticized for her actions by the local Republican party and by other county and state officials.[16] [17][18]


On July 13, 2007, a change in state policy in Massachusetts[1] (the only state in the United States at that time where same-sex marriages could be performed) allowed officials of that state to marry couples from states such as New Mexico which have no specific prohibition against same-sex marriage.[19]

New Mexican same-sex couples were already able to marry in such countries as Canada, where the laws of the state or country of origin of the couple are not an issue, and by mid-2008, same-sex couples were able to marry in both Massachusetts and California without regard to the laws of their state of residence. (However, under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, other states are not obliged to recognize any same-sex marriages, and same-sex couples who married were still not entitled to any federal benefits or recognition.)

According to civil-rights organization Freedom to Marry, "the New Mexico state government has not taken action to ensure [same-sex marriages] will be honored."[20] In a press release on July 27, 2007, the ACLU of New Mexico cautioned that "while we have made tremendous progress in persuading the state that it’s unfair to deny same-sex couples legal protections for their families, we still have a ways to go before we can expect the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples."[21]


In January 2008, a domestic partnership bill, HB 9,[2] advocated by governor Bill Richardson as part of his legislative agenda,[22] passed the state's House by a 33 to 31 vote and was sent to the state Senate, which took no action on it.[3][4][5][6] A similar bill had been defeated in the 2007 legislature.

House Bill 47, providing that marriage may only be between a man and a woman, and House Joint Resolution 3, proposing a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between a man and a woman, both died when the legislature adjourned on February 14, 2008, without acting on them.[23]

As of mid-2008, the validity in New Mexico of a same-sex marriage contracted in Massachusetts or any other jurisdiction, had not been officially affirmed or denied in New Mexico, so the issue remains uncertain.

Domestic Partnership Legislation

On February 27, 2009, a domestic partnership legislation that would grant both same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples many of the same rights found in a state marriage. The measure was voted down by a 25-17 margin, with 10 democrats and 15 republicans opposing the legislation. Supported by Governor Bill Richardson, supporters have vowed to resurface the issue sometime later in 2009.[7]

Economic Impact of Allowing Marriage for Same Sex Couples

A UCLA study concluded that allowing same-sex couples to marry would have a positive effect on New Mexico’s state budget. Allowing same-sex couples to marry would result in a net gain of approximately $1.5 million to $2 million each year for the State[8]. This net impact will be the result of savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs and an increase in sales and lodging tax revenue from weddings and wedding-related tourism.


In April, 2008, the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law, using data from the United States Census Bureau, issued a "Census Snapshot" that concluded, "While in many respects New Mexico’s same-sex couples look like married couples, same-sex couples with children have fewer economic resources to provide for their families than married parents and lower rates of home ownership."[24]

Analyzing census data on same-sex "unmarried-partner" households, the report determined, among other things, that:

  • In 2000, there were 4,496 same-sex couples living in New Mexico. By 2005, the number of same-sex couples disclosing their partnerships to the census bureau had increased to 6,063.
  • In 2005, there were an estimated 68,411 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people (single and coupled) living in New Mexico.
  • There are more female same-sex couples (58%) than male same-sex couples (42%) in New Mexico.
  • Individuals in same-sex couples are, on average, 42 years old, and significantly younger than individuals in married couples (48 years old) in New Mexico.
  • Same-sex couples live in every county in New Mexico and constitute 1.2% of coupled households and 0.7% of all households in the state.
  • 71% of individuals in same-sex couples are employed, compared to 60% of married individuals.
  • The average household income of same-sex couples is $53,720, compared to $59,692 for married couples. The median income of both same-sex and married coupled households in New Mexico is $47,000.
  • 66% of same-sex couples in New Mexico own their home, compared to 83% of married couples.
  • 27% of same-sex couples in New Mexico are raising children under the age of 18.
  • As of 2005, an estimated 3,624 of New Mexico’s children were living in households headed by same-sex couples.
  • 9% of New Mexico’s adopted children (or 1,056 children) live with a lesbian or gay parent.


  1. ^ "Same-sex couples from NM allowed to marry in MA". Retrieved 26 December 2007.  
  2. ^ "Text of House Bill 9".  
  3. ^ "New Mexico House Passes Domestic-Partnership Bill".  
  4. ^ "Bill for domestic partner rights passes through New Mexico House of Representatives".  
  5. ^ "New Mexico Closer to Domestic Partnerships".  
  6. ^ "New Mexico House passes partner bill".  
  7. ^ Domestic partnerships bill fails by 8-vote margin
  8. ^

External links


  • Pinello, Daniel R. America's Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage, Cambridge University Press, 2006. (ISBN 9780521848565) (Chapter 1 contains interviews with Victoria Dunlap and couples who participated in the Sandoval County marriages)

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