Coaliton work helps to protect the freedom to marry in New MexicoOnline Only, Top Highlights, Around the Nation Friday, February 21st, 2014
NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO – New Mexico’s same-sex couples and their families can breathe a sigh of relief: their freedom to marry is secure! Yesterday’s conclusion to the battle for marriage equality in New Mexico may seem anti-climactic, but is a victory none the less. New Mexico’s legislative session ended at noon today without even a committee hearing of a proposed anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment (SJR-6). This amendment would have undermined New Mexico’s unanimous state Supreme Court ruling much as Prop. 8 did in California.
People across the country have followed New Mexico’s story since August 2013 when Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins declared, “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” and began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Since New Mexico marriage law is unique in that it does not specify gender, rather than acts of defiance the issuance of those marriage licenses were acts of compliance with the state constitution. Ellins’ courageous act quickly spread county by county, wedding by wedding to several of the most populous counties, some directed by court orders, until the county clerk association asked for and received the Supreme Court ruling.
Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and the coalition we lead, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), are pleased to have supplemented the New Mexico Unites for Marriage coalition over the past month with our out-of-state phone banks. NEAT volunteers participated by calling from home, as well as from:
• a call center in New York City
• a Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Raleigh (NC)
• a synagogue in Bethesda (MD)
• National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change – in Houston (TX)
• three LGBT centers in California: San Jose, San Francisco, and Long Beach
Marriage Equality USA recruited trained and supported these volunteers as they made thousands of calls and spoke with nearly 900 New Mexico voters in key districts. These calls resulted in nearly 250 supporters agreeing to contact their swing legislators.
New Mexico United for Marriage campaign manager Robert Adams said, “This campaign started because of the groundswell of support for the freedom to marry.”
“We could never have taken on this important work without our coalition members, both here in New Mexico and nationally. We are forever indebted to their early and ongoing support,” he added.
“Today we join the New Mexico Unites for Marriage coalition in celebrating all we have accomplished together! Clearly the calls and other voter contacts sent legislators a clear message that residents of the Land of Enchantment supported and wanted to retain the freedom to marry. As a result, over 1,600 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico and those who plan to marry do not have to face an emotionally amendment that questions their dignity and humanity,” stated MEUSA Program Manager Tracy Hollister.
Hollister added: “This is personally heart-warming for me as I often spend holidays in Cloudcroft and Las Cruces, New Mexico with my parents. Last December, I witnessed a Texas couple’s beautiful wedding ceremony in Las Cruces and I had the chance to personally thank Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, who, seeing no state constitutional justification to disallow his actions, had the courage to start issuing licenses to couples back in August 2013.”
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