New Mexico Democrats support gay marriage as Respect for Marriage Act passes U.S. Senate

New Mexico's Congressional delegation appeared split along party lines on same-sex marriage, as a bill to enshrine such rights in the U.S. Constitution passed the Senate Tuesday and was headed to House of Representatives for another vote.

From there, should the bill pass, it will head to President Joe Biden’s desk for signature into law.

The two Democrat U.S. senators from New Mexico Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan both voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act as the Senate passed the bill on a 61-36 vote.

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Of the 61 yes votes, 12 Republicans broke with party lines and voted in support of the bill while every Democrat in the chamber voted for the bill.

If it becomes law, the Respect for Marriage Act would guarantee federal recognition of any marriage between people if the union was valid in the state where it was performed.

The law would also require states to accept a valid same-sex marriage performed elsewhere, but not require a state to issue a marriage license.

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It would also not require people or organizations to provide marriage services if the ceremony or celebration went against their religious beliefs or recognize polygamous unions.

New Mexico’s State Constitution already requires same-sex marriages be recognized, and the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that the right marriage must be afforded to same-sex couples nationwide.

“No American should have their rights and freedoms threatened because of who they are and who they love,” Heinrich said in a statement following the Senate’s vote. “New Mexico’s state constitution requires that same-sex couples be treated equally under the law and have the same fundamental right to marry as other couples.”

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Heinrich said the legislation was necessary to protect the rights of all Americans.

“However, given the current MAGA conservative majority on the Supreme Court, which is poised to take away long-standing civil liberties, there is still more work to do in Congress to safeguard same-sex couples and their families,” Heinrich said.

“It's about time we provide certainty that the marriages of same-sex and interracial couples will not only be protected, but also given equal recognition across our nation.”

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After the vote, Lujan said n a statement that the bill would protect marriage against “extremist” attacks from the Supreme Court and GOP.

“Today, the Senate sent a resounding message to same-sex and interracial couples all across our nation: Love is love,” Lujan said. “Despite threats made by extremists on the Supreme Court, the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act will provide these couples peace of mind and certainty by ensuring that their marriages are protected under federal law.”

The Senate vote, Lujan said, would put the federal government in line with widespread public opinion.

U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)
U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM)

“This historic legislation is an important, long overdue step that is supported by a large majority of Americans,” Lujan said. “I’m proud to join the Senate in affirming what New Mexicans have long understood – that every couple deserves dignity and equal protection under law.”

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New Mexico’s two Democrat U.S. Reps. Melanie Stansbury and Teresa Leger Fernandez voted in favor of the initial bill when it was introduced in the House in July, before being amended and sent back to their chamber for review.

The State’s lone Republican U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell voted against the measure but did not return a request for comment on that vote or the Senate’s recent passage from the Current-Argus.

In a statement from the White House, Biden called the Senate’s passage was “historic” and vowed to sign the bill into law when it comes before the President.

“For millions of Americans, this legislation will safeguard the rights and protections to which LGBTQI+ and interracial couples and their children are entitled,” Biden said. “It will also ensure that, for generations to follow, LGBTQI+ youth will grow up knowing that they, too, can lead full, happy lives and build families of their own.”

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, achedden@currentargus.com or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: New Mexico Democrats support gay marriage as bill passes U.S. Senate