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New Mexico Supreme Court Overturns Law Banning Gay Marriage

New Mexico’s highest state court overturned a ban on gay marriage Thursday, making the state the 16th in the union (plus Washington, D.C.) to have legalized same-sex marriage.

The state had never explicitly outlawed same-sex marriage; however, a state law on the books since 1961 required marriage licenses contain only an area for “husband” and “wife,” which acted, the state’s Attorneys General decided, as a de facto ban (though current AG Gary King thought the law unconstitutional).

After a country clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in August, eight of the state’s thirty-three counties followed suit. On Thursday the state supreme court declared the provision unconstitutional, based on a 1972 constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination “on account of the sex of any person.”

Advocates of the ban had argued that the state had a substantial interest in defining marriage as a union focused on procreation, but the court shot that argument down.

“Procreation has never been a condition of marriage under New Mexico law,” the justices wrote in their decision, “as evidenced by the fact that the aged, the infertile, and those who choose not to have children are not precluded from marrying.”

[h/t Guardian / WaPo]

[Image via Reuters]

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