New Mexico’s highest court ruled on Thursday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry.
“We conclude that the purpose of New Mexico marriage laws is to bring stability and order to the legal relationship of committed couples by defining their rights and responsibilities as to one another, their children if they choose to raise children together, and their property,” the court’s ruling read. “Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the government interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified.”
The New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling was a decision without dissent. The ruling makes New Mexico the 17th state in the country to allow same sex-marriage.
The ruling, handed down by the five-judge panel, comes months after Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins (D) sparked a chain reaction bringing national attention to the state’s ambiguous marriage laws by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A number of other clerks followed suit.
The clerk’s decision prompted legal challenges that eventually made their way to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Ellins expects the New Mexico supreme court’s decision could affect other legal decisions on same-sex marriage throughout the country.
“It seems to me every time that a state supreme court comes out with a decision like this —and incidentally this is a very well-read and lengthy, articulate, and somewhat intricate but complete decision— I think it will have some bearing on how some courts will treat this issue,” Ellins told TPM on Thursday. “This court really looked at it from many many many angles.”
Ellins, a lawyer by training who previously practiced in New York and Colorado, said he’s glad his legal analysis was ratified by the court. He said that the most important aspect of the ruling was the financial benefits, such as tax treatment, it now allows gay couples to enjoy, too.
“I’m happy because I went out on a limb, I thought it was a pretty thick limb but a limb nonetheless,” Ellins said. “And somebody was wondering —another media outlet was wondering ‘do you feel vindicated?’ I said no I didn’t feel vindicated because I didn’t have a vendetta against anyone. But I do feel satisfied that my legal judgement was substantiated.”
TPM asked what Ellins planned to do now.
“Keep issuing licenses,” Ellins said. “In fact we issued two this morning, before the decision came down.”
This post was updated.
Read the ruling below: