New Mexico House Committee Advances Marriage Equality Referendum

The New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-2 on Thursday to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow same-sex couples to marry. If it successfully passes both the House and Senate, it would be placed on the 2014 general election ballot.

The situation for legal recognition of same-sex couples in New Mexico is nebulous. The state does not have any law that explicitly bans same-sex marriage, nor any that allows it. In 2004, former Attorney General Patricia Madrid issued an advisory suggesting state law should be interpreted to limit marriage to a man and a woman, but in 2011, Attorney General Gary King issued an opposing position arguing that New Mexico should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. An attempt to advance an amendment banning same-sex marriage failed last year.

As in New Jersey, a referendum is not the ideal solution for New Mexico, particularly when there are other legal avenues available to legalize same-sex marriage. Ballot initiatives on LGBT issues are incredibly costly to the movement and have a measurable negative impact on the mental health of the entire LGBT community.