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January 9, 2014

Update on Same-sex Marriage Status in the States: New Mexico and Utah

New Mexico now joins 17 other states and jurisdictions in sanctioning same-sex marriage.  The validity of same-sex marriage in Utah, however, is a moving target.

New Mexico

As a result of a New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling on December 19, 2013 (Griego v. Oliver, No. 34,306 (N.M. Dec. 19, 2013)), same-sex couples are allowed to marry in New Mexico.  Prior to the ruling and unlike other states, there was no specific state law or constitutional provision prohibiting or permitting same-sex marriage in New Mexico.  As such, 8 of the 33 counties within the state began issuing same-sex marriage licenses.  The matter was brought before the Court to set cohesion in state policy.  The Court’s unanimous decision held that the state’s constitution requires same-sex couples to be treated equally under the law, including the same fundamental right to marry, as other couples.

Utah

Utah’s constitution and state law specifically prohibit same-sex marriage.  On December 20, 2013, a federal judge for the U. S. District Court in Utah ruled that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional (Kitchen et al v Herbert et al, U. S. DC Utah, 2:13cv217 RJS).  Judge Robert J. Shelby’s rationale concluded that Utah's law violates same-sex couples' rights under the 14th Amendment.  The state sought to delay the Judge’s ruling by pursuing an appeal by the U. S. Supreme Court.  On January 6, 2014, the Supreme Court put a hold on Judge Shelby’s decision thereby reinstating the state ban until after a federal appeals court rules on it.  And thus, the validity of same-sex marriage in Utah remains in a flux until this issue is resolved.

Updated State Chart – Same-Sex Marriage

The following states recognize same-sex marriage:

States with Same-Sex Marriage Laws

California*

Massachusetts

Connecticut

Minnesota (effective 8/1/13)

Delaware (effective 7/1/13)

New Hampshire

District of Columbia

New Jersey (effective 10/21/13)

Hawaii (effective 12/2/13)

New Mexico (effective 12/19/13)

Illinois

New York

Iowa

Rhode Island (effective 8/1/13)

Maine

Vermont

Maryland

Washington

*With regard to California, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Court lifted the stay restricting same-sex marriage on June 28, 2013, allowing same-sex marriages to resume.

 

 

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