New Mexico Republican Legislators Seek To Stop Same-Sex Marriages

CREDIT: AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca

New Mexico State Senator William Sharer (R)

New Mexico State Senator William Sharer (R)

A group of Republican state legislators in New Mexico, led by anti-gay state Sen. William Sharer (R), plan to file a lawsuit to try to stop same-sex marriages in Doña Ana County. County Clerk Lynn Ellins (D) began offering marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week.

A recent opinion by New Mexico Attorney General Gary King (D) concluded that while some state statues implicitly require that marrying couples include one male and one female, the equal protections required by the New Mexico’s constitution render these rules unconstitutional. King said he would not fight any lawsuit demanding same-sex marriage equality.

Citing this, Ellins announced last week that he would comply with the United States constitution, the state constitution, and the New Mexico Human Rights Act by allowing same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in his county. “I see no reason to make committed couples in Doña Ana County wait another minute to marry,” he noted.

Days later, complying with a New Mexico district judge’s order, Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar (D) also began offering same-sex marriage licenses.

But Sharer, who has unsuccessfully pushed marriage inequality amendment proposals for years, says he and more two-dozen Republican colleagues in the state legislature will file a lawsuit this week aimed at stopping the Doña Ana County weddings.

In a statement on his campaign website, Sharer wrote:

The Dona Ana County Clerk’s actions should offend the senses of everyone. In a nation of laws governed by a constitution, the legislators are the duly elected lawmakers. But even the legislators must have the consent of the executive. A county clerk simply should not be allowed to create law out of thin air. There is a way to change the law – little dictators should not be allowed to act as the sole lawgiver in a free society. My opposition to the County Clerk is based on the simple fact that he is not the dictator. He cannot change the law of New Mexico. Read past the first sentence and you will see that the law, as actually written, uses the terms male and female, bride and groom, and husband and wife.

Sharer went on to compare this to a county official unilaterally creating a death penalty in New Mexico and illegally hanging people without a trial. But while New Mexico enacted an explicit ban on capital punishment in 2009, it has no explicit ban on same-sex unions. And indeed his own repeated attempts to establish a constitutional prohibition on same-sex unions suggest that he too might have realized that the state’s implicit ban does not pass constitutional muster.

On his campaign blog, Sharer argues that marriage is important because, while Alexander the Great “may have engaged in homosexual activity,” he still “married a woman” and “directed his officers to stop ‘whoring’ around and find a local woman to marry.”