New Mexico is not technically one of the nine states that has legally recognized same-sex marriage. But don’t say that to the city of Santa Fe.
On Tuesday, Mayor David Coss and City Councilor Patti Bushee announced they are sponsoring a council resolution recognizing gay marriage as legal in the state and encouraged county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
A three-page opinion penned by City Attorney Geno Zamora argues gay marriage is already legal in New Mexico, because the state’s technical definition of marriage is gender-neutral. New Mexico law currently defines marriage as a “civil contract, for while the consent of the contracting parties ... is essential” but does not specify the couple must be male and female.
The state currently recognizes marriages conducted outside of its border, including same-sex unions.
While New Mexico’s marriage application form is currently described in terms of male and female applicants, Zamora said it is trumped by the Constitution’s Equal Rights Amendment, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The city council resolution will be introduced on March 27.
This isn’t the first time state authorities have “legalized” same-sex marriage without actual legislative action or a court decision. On Feb. 20, 2004, gay marriage was legal for eight hours after a Sandoval County clerk began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
New Mexico is currently the only state in the nation with no specific law dealing with same-sex marriage.
The news come only a week before the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether the federal Defense of Marriage Act wrongly denies gay spouses equal benefits under federal law. A record 58 percent of Americans say they support marriage equality, according to a new ABC News poll.