NM Atty. Gen. Issues Legal Opinion on Marriage Recognition
January 6, 2011 by Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director
Yesterday, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King issued a sound legal opinion [pdf] analyzing New Mexico’s marriage comity laws and concluding that the state can recognize marriages between two people of the same sex performed outside of the state. The opinion was a response to an inquiry by New Mexico State Representative Al Park (D-Albuquerque) that asked whether same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions are valid in New Mexico. A key portion of the opinion explains, "While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico."
This opinion does not address the ability of same-sex couples to marry in New Mexico, and at this point it is unclear the weight which the opinion will be given by the state government and courts. New Mexico state law neither specifically prohibits nor permits same-sex couples to legally marry.
Both Maryland and New York provide marriage rights to same-sex couples married out of jurisdiction while not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples within the state. In February 2007, the Rhode Island Attorney General issued an advisory opinion declaring that the state could recognize out of jurisdiction marriages. However, the following December, the Rhode Island Supreme Court refused to grant a divorce to a same-sex couple legally married in Massachusetts.
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