Claiming that "same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples," the N.M. Supreme Court found on Thursday that gay marriage is legal under the New Mexico Constitution.
"We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law," Justice Edward L. Chavez wrote for the N.M. Supreme Court.
The other four justices on the court concurred with the opinion.
Denying state marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the N.M. Constitution's equal protection clause, which says that no person can "be denied equal protection of the laws," the court found.
The remedy, Chavez wrote is that "'civil marriage' shall be construed to mean the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples."
The court was unconvinced by the defense arguments that the previous definition of marriage should be upheld because opposite-sex married couples best provide child rearing needs. According to the opinion, the defense argued that maintaining the definition of marriage is in the interest of the state because it promotes "responsible procreation" and "responsible child-rearing."
Chavez wrote that "it is not clear what the opponents of same-gender marriage mean by 'responsible procreation,' ... ." In the next sentence, though, he uses the term "responsible procreation" without defining what it means for the court: "Same-gender couples are as capable of responsible procreation as are opposite-gender couples. We conclude that there is not a substantial relationship between New Mexico marriage laws and the purported governmental interest in responsible procreation."
Chavez also claims that "no one denies that LGBT individuals are fully capable of entering into the kind of loving and committed relationships that serve as the foundation for families, or that they are capable of responsibly caring for and raising children."