Civil Rights Groups Hail Massachusetts Decision Allowing NM Same-Sex Couples to Marry

Couples who marry in Massachusetts cautioned not to expect major change in New Mexico’s treatment of same-sex marriages

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 26, 2007
CONTACT:  Whitney Potter, ACLU of New Mexico (505) 266-5915 ext 1003 or Alexis Blizman, Equality New Mexico, (505) 980-3100

ALBUQUERQUE—The American Civil Liberties Union and Equality New Mexico welcomed news today that the Massachusetts Public Health Department recently notified state clerks there that same-sex couples from New Mexico should be allowed to marry in Massachusetts.  The groups, however, caution same-sex couples not to expect the state to recognize their marriages when they return home to New Mexico.

“We are extremely proud of the work of our colleagues who led the charge to secure marriage for same sex couples in Massachusetts,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson.  “But the change in policy is unlikely to have a significant effect on same-sex couples here in New Mexico.  Same-sex couples have had the option of marrying in Canada and other countries for years now, and 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.”

On Thursday, July 18th, the Registrar of the Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, Stanley Nyberg, sent a letter to all city and town clerks on July 18th notifying them to allow same-sex couples from New Mexico to apply for marriage licenses in Massachusetts.  The change in policy was in response to demands from the Gay and Lesbian Defenders (GLAD) who secured the legal ruling from the Massachusetts high court ruling that it was unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from marrying there.  GLAD argued that a 1913 Massachusetts law barring state clerks from issuing licenses to anyone who was barred from marrying in their home state does not apply to New Mexicans because New Mexico does not have a law specifically barring marriages by same-sex couples.

“New Mexico may very well become a leader in the struggle for marriage for same-sex couples,” said EQNM Executive Director Alexis Blizman.  “But the one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it that we can’t expect change to happen over night.  This past year we came awfully close to getting a comprehensive domestic partner bill passed, and we are confident we can secure the votes we need to get it passed in the coming session.  And rest assured that we are going to keep working to change hearts and minds until all New Mexicans understand that it’s unfair to deny same-sex couples and their families all of the legal protections and the social recognition that comes with marriage.”

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