SANTA FE (KRQE) - Santa Fe city officials are hoping to shake up the debate on same-sex marriage in New Mexico.
They say based on current law, same-sex marriage appears to be legal here and they are encouraging county clerks across the state to start issuing marriage licenses.
State lawmakers have taken up the issue time and time again, but Tuesday, Santa Fe's mayor and city attorney said it doesn't really matter.
Opponents to same-sex marriage say this is only going to lead to a battle in court.
"Same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico," says Geno Zamora, Santa Fe city attorney.
He says New Mexico defines marriage as a civil contract between "parties," rather than saying between a man and a woman.
"The statutes define it as gender-neutral between two parties," Zamora says.
Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and City Councilor Patti Bushee, who stood next to her partner during the announcement, are sponsoring a resolution in support of gay marriage.
"We are going to encourage county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples," Mayor Coss says.
"It doesn't surprise me Santa Fe is doing that, but it's still against state law," says Sen. Bill Sharer, (R-Farmington).
Sharer has in the past tried to pass laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman. He says if county clerks do in fact issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the debate will have to be settled in court.
"Marriage is not about two people. Marriage is about creating and raising the next generation. That's what marriage is about. Marriage is about bringing new life into the world," Sen. Sharer says.
Republicans and Democrats have tried to pass legislation to either legalize or prohibit same-sex marriage but all attempts thus far have failed.
Mayor Coss says he is done waiting.
"There are a lot of things where if you wait for the New Mexico Legislature, you might be waiting for a long time," Coss says.
Attorney General Gary King has issued an opinion saying same-sex marriages valid in other states will also be recognized in New Mexico.
But he has not had to weigh in yet on whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico under current state law.
Mayor Coss and Councilor Bushee plan to introduce their resolution at a council meeting next week.
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