For more than two hours this morning in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s five-judge Supreme Court heard arguments for and against marriage equality, after almost 1000 same-sex couples have married since August under the state’s ambiguous marriage laws. Constitutional and statutory arguments for and against marriage equality on the basis of equal protection and equal rights were made.
Arguments from the anti-gay side were predictably obtuse and irrelevant. The flawed and debunked anti-gay “parenting” study by Mark Regnerus was used to argue that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. Other anti-gay arguments included “husband and wife means husband and wife,” tradition, the institution of marriage must be protected and therefore gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and marriage was designed to channel mankind’s procreative powers — a situation that gay and lesbian couples don’t have to worry about.
Other preposterous claims were made, including that LGBT people have extraordinary political power and therefore don’t need the courts to intervene, and that either the people or the legislature should decide the issue of marriage. Ironically, when the court took a short break, one attorney not realizing the cameras were still live, quipped that if the legislature passed marriage equality, the issue would till return to the state Supreme Court.
“Marriage is just more than a vehicle for procreation,” attorney Maureen Sanders, arguing in favor of equality, told the Court. Sanders said that marriage is “a relationship between two individuals, whether or not they want to have children.” She noted that there is no “litmus test” for procreation, and asking couples prior to allowing them to marry if they will have children “has never been done in this state.”
“It is this Court’s responsibility to say denying same-sex couples the right to marry is a violation of the NM Constitution,” Sanders also stated.
Attorneys arguing for equality noted that civil unions are, indeed, second-class instruments.
Justice Richard Bosson near the end of the session asked one anti-gay attorney,
“Have you ever heard of the term ‘the closet’? Why does someone stay in the closet?”
The Court will issue a written decision at a later date, possibly in about two weeks.
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