SANTA FE (KRQE) - It's the question more than 900 couples and 33 county clerks have been asking for weeks: Is same-sex marriage legal in New Mexico?
Soon they could have their answer.
Now that all 33 clerks have asked the New Mexico Supreme Court to clarify the situation, gay couples could find out for sure if tying the knot is OK or against the law.
“I am surprised by how quickly the Supreme Court decided to schedule this for arguments,” said Daniel Ivey-Soto, executive director of the county clerks' affiliate of the New Mexico Association of Counties.
One day after the clerks made the request, the Supreme Court decided to take some action.
The five justices will hear from county clerks on Oct. 23, and each of them is asking for a clear answer.
“Regardless of how any of them felt about this issue personally, they needed to be able to do their job under the law,” Ivey-Soto said.
Ivey-Soto says a decision could come that day, but he can't say for sure.
The clerks have been asked to send in written arguments by Sept. 23.
Over at ACLU New Mexico, Executive Director Peter Simonson says the Supreme Court has a chance to make history.
“It would set a great precedent that at a national level we continue to see progress to the day, once and for all, that same-sex couples throughout our country can get married,” Simonson said.
“This is something the Supreme Court needs to decide,” Ivey-Soto said. “What is the value of those marriage licenses and how much people plan their lives around the fact that they think they're married or that they actually are married.”
Ivey-Soto says he expects more licenses to be issued to gay couples as the state waits on a Supreme Court decision, but he agrees with the state attorney general that it's better for couples to wait until a decision has been made.
If the Supreme Court were to rule same-sex marriage unlawful, licenses will no longer be issued.
It would then be up to the justices to decide if marriages up to that point would be recognized, or invalid.
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