Same-sex marriage laws could change in NM

Posted at: 06/26/2013 6:18 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Gay marriage has failed to pass in the New Mexico legislature time after time, but that could be changing. Governor Susana Martinez set something new on the table on this issue Wednesday morning.

The Republican Governor, who still personally opposes gay marriage, says the voters ought to decide the issue. It would be in the form of a proposed amendment to the state constitution, probably on the ballot in the next general election in 2014. Democratic lawmakers call it a big development. The Governor calls it the right thing to do.

"I do believe that that should be decided by the public and they should come out and vote for or against it," Martinez said. "It would be a constitutional amendment and it would not be the politicians who drive that. It would be the people of New Mexico who decide."

Democratic Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, a fierce supporter of gay marriage, says bring it on!

"I think we would probably win the vote," Ortiz y Pino said. "The polls certainly indicate that the majority of New Mexicans are changing their position and the needle is moving."

But Ortiz y Pino says the legislature ought to decide civil rights issues like gay marriage, not the voters. A similar constitutional amendment backed by Democrats failed in last winter's legislative session. Rep. Brian Egolf, a Santa Fe Democrat, sponsored that legislation. He believes that was then but this is now.

"The movement of the tide of history could not be clearer on this issue," Egolf said. "There is no doubt in my mind that marriage equality will exist in the United States from coast to coast and border to border sooner than anyone thinks."

In the meantime, though, both Egolf and Ortiz y Pino believe that the courts may decide the issue in New Mexico, even before next January's legislative session and before the next general election in November 2014.

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