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New Mexico: Santa Fe mayor says gay marriage legal in state

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Mayor David Coss of Sante Fe, New Mexico, said gay marriage is already legal in the state as he announced a resolution that will be brought before city council March 27 that would affirm that opinion. 

At a March 19 press conference, Coss called Santa Fe a city of respect, acceptance and diversity and said he's "made it a point as mayor" to try to embrace all its residents.  

"I think it's time to move on this issue; the whole country is changing. Santa Fe can lead that change here in New Mexico," he said. 

City attorney Geno Zamora, who also spoke at the press conference, supported the mayor's statement. "First and most importantly, New Mexico does not define same-sex marriage as a marriage between a man and a woman. The statutes define it as gender-neutral between two parties," Zamora says.

"Secondly, New Mexico appropriately recognizes valid marriages from other states, including same-sex marriages from throughout the country. Third, under New Mexico statute, a marriage licence is not permitted to be denied based on the sex of the couple . . . Finally, we have a New Mexico constitution that guarantees equal rights on the basis of sex. To deny equal rights to same-sex partners is to violate the New Mexico constitution. Same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico. It's legal for our brothers and sisters, for our parents, for our nephews and nieces, and for our friends."

Gay Star News quotes county clerk Geraldine Salazar as saying she supports gay marriage but doesn't feel she can issue marriage licences to same-sex couples under the current law.

In 2004, county clerk Victoria Dunlap began issuing marriage licences to gay couples until the state attorney issued an opinion saying they were invalid, according to a report in The Washington Blade.

"The resolution that we have introduced to [the] city council and the legal opinion that our attorney’s office did also provides what’s the legal steps if the clerks won’t issue the licenses, but we’ve been waiting for the legislature to address this for 25 years,” Coss told The Blade, which notes that this current move by city officials comes more than two years after state Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion stating same-sex marriage is legal in the state. But his opinion does not have the force of law, the report adds.

Coss expects that the resolution and opinion will be heard in district court and then move on to the New Mexico Supreme Court for a final resolution.

Coss also revealed his personal interest in the matter, noting that his daughter is gay, and "as a dad," he wanted to walk her down the aisle some day. "I will never get to do that if we don’t move on these issues in Santa Fe. 

"I think we’re making the right statement and the right opinion, and I feel pretty confident that before too much longer, same-sex couples in New Mexico will have equal rights with the rest of New Mexicans.”

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