THE PRICE OF CITIZENSHIP IS RISING IN NEW MEXICO
By William C. Duncan
The New Mexico Supreme Court (one of whose members recently announced that the “price of citizenship” included not acting on your beliefs in the public square) has just announced that henceforth, marriage in New Mexico is not the union of a husband and wife but an association of any two people. It appears that the price of citizenship now includes giving up your right to have political decisions made by your representatives.
On the first page of the Court’s opinion, it quotes a 1943 case striking down an attempt to force Jehovah’s Witnesses to salute the flag: “The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts.” From this starting point, the New Mexico court goes on to construct a right not mentioned in the Bill of Rights (unless same-sex marriage is hidden away in Amendment 9.5) that will be the new orthodoxy for social policy in the state. (And we’ve already seen what happens to those who don’t want to salute this new prescribed orthodoxy.)
What’s more, the court not only provides a new definition for the social institution of marriage, it also creates what is essentially a statute to codify its definition and give it maximum effect:
“Instead, “civil marriage” shall be construed to mean the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples. Therefore, whether they are contained in NMSA 1978, Chapter 40 or any other New Mexico statutes, rules, regulations or the common law, whenever reference is made to marriage, husband, wife, spouse, family, immediate family, dependent, next of kin, widow, widower or any other word, which, in context, denotes a marital relationship, the same shall apply to same-gender couples who choose to marry.”
Then, since usurping the legislative role is not enough, they rewrite the application form for marriage licenses: “With respect to the forms required by Section 40-1-18, gender-neutral language shall be utilized by the Clerks.” To be sure, the judiciary stays in control, the final sentence “order[s] the courts to mandate compliance with the holdings and rationale of this opinion.”