The New Mexico Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage Thursday with a ruling that ended a decade’s worth confusion and ambiguity over the state law.
The unanimous decision said the state constitution gives same-sex couples the right to marry, making New Mexico the 17th state, plus the District of Columbia, to allow gay marriage. Parts of the state have been allowing same-sex couples to wed for months. See a full map of the state of gay marriage nationwide from Stateline here.
The court heard arguments in the case in October, during which a majority of the justices asked skeptical questions of the attorneys who argued the state law banned same-sex marriage.
The ambiguity over the law goes back more than a decade. New Mexico, before today, was the only state to have no law either banning or allowing same-sex marriage. In 2004, a county official decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and 64 people were married before the state put a stop to it. That left the issue in limbo until 2013.
This year, bolstered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage, local officials in New Mexico again began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This time, the state refused to block them and asked the state Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.
The Supreme Court did just that on Thursday, ruling that same-sex couples in the state were allowed to marry, extending gay marriage beyond a handful of counties to statewide.