State: Gay couples
from New Mexico
can marry in
By Jay Lindsay, AP
from boston.com on the Web, July 26, 2007
BOSTON -- Gay couples from New
Mexico can now marry in Massachusetts because their home state has not
explicitly banned same-sex marriage, according to a decision by a top state
New Mexico joins Rhode Island as the only states whose gay residents can marry
in Massachusetts because neither specifically bans same-sex marriage. But
neither Rhode Island nor New Mexico has said it would recognize the marriages
after its residents return home.
Gay rights advocates said they had expected the decision on New Mexico, which
comes after Massachusetts's highest court ruled last year that gay couples from
other states could not marry here if their home state banned gay marriage.
Alexis Blizman, executive director of the pro-gay marriage group Equality New
Mexico, said she was pleased by the decision. But she said the ability to
marry in Massachusetts wasn't much different than marrying in other countries,
which New Mexicans have done for years.
She predicted it would not lead to a rush to Massachusetts.
"It's just another reminder that New Mexican same-sex couples need legal
protections and rather than having them seek them out elsewhere, certainly we'd
rather have them be able to achieve those here at home," she said.
The instructions to give marriage licenses to gay couples from New Mexico was
given by Massachusetts' Registrar of Vital Records Stanley Nyberg in a July 18
notice to city and town clerks.
"Effective immediately, Intentions to Marry completed by same sex couples who
seek licenses to marry in Massachusetts may be accepted," the notice read.
"Under applicable Massachusetts law ... , New Mexico's laws do not prohibit
marriage between parties."
It was not immediately clear if any gay couples from New Mexico have ever been
married in Massachusetts, the only state to allow gay marriage.
Gay marriages began in Massachusetts in 2004. Gov. Mitt Romney then prohibited
out-of-state couples from marrying in the state, citing a 1913 law that bars
Massachusetts from marrying couples who could not be wed under the laws of their
A Supreme Judicial Court ruling on the law last year said it applied only to
states where gay marriage was explicitly banned.
In February, two bills that would have banned same-sex marriage in New Mexico
were killed when a House committee tabled them. A domestic partnership
bill that would have given gay couples many of the same rights as married
couples also died in the legislature earlier this year.
New Mexico Attorney General Gary King said he would not recommend whether the
state should legally recognize gay marriages from Massachusetts until the issue
comes up, a spokesman said.
Rhode Island officials have not decided whether to recognize gay marriages from
Massachusetts, despite a recommendation to do so by state Attorney General
Another state that dealt with gay marriages from Massachusetts is New York,
where about 170 same-sex marriages were deemed valid because they occurred
before a New York state appeals court ruling in 2006 banned gay marriages.