The US Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor, announced today, allows states to define what a marriage is for the purposes of their state family laws.
For those states that have already legalized gay marriage, those individuals who have been married, will now be allowed to participate in the over 1,000 federal benefits that married individuals are entitled to.
Whether New Mexico will allow individuals legally married in other states to be recognized as married in this state is still an issue. The Attorney General King has said that our law concerning marriage is “unclear”. However, the marriage statute IS clear, “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…” While yet to be challenged in the court, it seems that New Mexico will recognize a gay marriage if legal in the state where the ceremony was performed.
The Decision from the Supreme Court did NOT say “all states must allow gay marriage”. They left that up to each individual state. So for LGBT’s living in New Mexico, the battle is now with the legislature, courts and the people to determine if gay marriage will be legalized here. However, there is very strong language in this opinion that can be used to invalidate any state’s laws that forbid gay marriage and that language will likely be used in every case across the state from today forward.
If you are considering entering into a marriage in another state, it’s important to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable of all the issues surrounding gay marriage. It is not a simple decision and there are many pitfalls to rushing into getting married. LGBT couples in NM can still be protectedby the use of a Domestic Partnership Agreement or other legal documents – but each situation is different.