The Santa Fe City Council chambers erupted into applause and cheers Wednesday night after the council passed a resolution supporting marriage equality for gays in New Mexico.

A couple of dozen opponents of the measure remained in their seats.

There was a standing room-only crowd for the vote. The Santa Fe Fire Department had to bar the doors before the meeting started, leaving many to watch the proceedings from the hallway. Many in attendance wore red to symbolize their support for marriage equality. Others sported yellow stickers, representing the Equality New Mexico organization, or pink felt hearts that said “All Families Matter.” A smaller group held pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe or wore stickers that said “Life and Family are Sacred.” No public testimony was permitted before the vote.

The resolution, which passed by a 5-3 vote (including two abstentions), doesn’t have any effect on state rules and practices.

Earlier this year, the Doña Ana County clerk and a Mesilla Park state representative asked state Attorney General Gary King to issue a ruling on whether county clerks in the state can legally issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. King’s decision is pending.

But City Attorney Geno Zamora argued in a memo this spring that the definition of marriage in New Mexico’s statutes is gender-neutral. “Since New Mexico does not define marriage as between a man and a woman, and since New Mexico does not prohibit same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage is permitted in New Mexico,” he wrote.

The resolution urges both the attorney general and county clerks to recognize that state law already allows the freedom to marry, regardless of gender, Zamora said.

Peter Ives and Bill Dimas, who abstained, both cited their Catholic faith in comments before the roll call and said they do not believe the council has standing to make a policy on the issue. The third “no” came from Councilor Chris Rivera, who said his vote was partly based on believing in “traditional families with traditional values.”

Councilors Ron Trujillo and Carmichael Dominguez, both members of local Roman Catholic parishes, voted in favor of the resolution.

Trujillo, a married father of two who was born and raised in Santa Fe, gave an impassioned speech after he seconded a motion from Councilor Chris Calvert to approve the measure.

“I was brought up by loving parents and loving grandparents not to hate,” Trujillo said. “It amazes me — I don’t want to bring in religion, I really don’t — but that has been thrown at me every single day since this has been brought up, that I’m a bad Catholic and that I’m going to be in Purgatory burning in hell.”

Later, he said, “What I’m trying to say is I just feel that everybody should be afforded the opportunity that I was afforded to get married and live happily in this city … the city of Holy Faith.”

Mayor David Coss, who introduced the measure with Councilor Patti Bushee, said he was proud of the city.

“I did not take a religious oath when I took this office,” he said before the vote. “I took an oath to represent everybody in the city and to uphold the constitution.”

(Coss didn’t vote on the resolution because under council rules, the mayor only votes to break a tie.)

Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger, a native of Mississippi who was a child there when public schools were racially integrated in the 1950s, said she opposed the “unnecessarily divisive” manner in which the measure was brought up — it was announced at a hastily planned news conference. But she said she backed the idea because of “the painful truth” that gays are not equal under the law.

Bushee, the city’s only openly gay councilor, noted that she’s been accused of promoting a personal agenda, but she said she believes she was elected to “protect the health, safety and welfare of all the citizens of Santa Fe.”

“Everyone — with no exception — should be treated with dignity and respect,” she said, adding later that she, too, was raised Catholic. “The freedom to marry will be coming soon across the nation. The time has come to support all of our community. Let’s be on the right side of history.”

Dimas said he abstained from voting because the city should focus on issues such as crime and drugs. He noted that he’s both a “lifelong Catholic” and the father of a gay stepson.

“I have several friends who are gay, and I don’t have a problem with any of them getting married if it’s legal,” he said. “The problem I have with this resolution is I don’t feel the City Council has any business getting involved in an issue that is being decided right now by the United States Supreme Court.”

Dimas said the resolution has “done nothing more than polarize our community.”

Ives listed state and federal laws, judicial opinions and other rulings and studies on discrimination, adoption, child custody, marriage and other issues that he reviewed before making his decision. Then he noted that he would not vote and that he hoped other authorities would soon make a determination on the issue.

The official marriage contract in New Mexico is recorded by the county clerk, which means the city has no jurisdiction in the matter. County clerks are still operating under a 2004 directive from then-Attorney General Patricia Madrid that ordered them not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Further complicating matters is a 2011 opinion issued by King saying that New Mexico must consider valid all same-sex marriage licenses granted in other states, just the way it honors other marriage licenses.

The state Legislature has failed to pass a measure to either ban gay marriage or to affirm it during recent lawmaking sessions, but state courts are set to hear the issue soon because of a lawsuit filed by two lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses this spring.

Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 986-3017 or jgrimm@sfnewmexican.com. Follow her on Twitter @julieanngrimm.

(29) comments

Samuel

Every human should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. It is the business of nobody else, but their own. Conservatives want their noses in everybody elses business; women (birth control), gays and lesbians (marriage), the poor (medicaid), but, they absolutely hate when somebody tells them to pay their proper share of taxes or back universal background checks. You all stay out of everyone 's business and I'm sure everyone will stay out of yours. Congratulations on marriage equality in Santa Fe!

Steve Salazar

What's the proper share, 18%, like the President paid?

Doug Smart

To the 5 Councilors who voted YES, Thank you.

To the 2 abstentions and the 1 NO vote, you each mentioned your religious beliefs, which I suspect sounds noble to you. But your logic (excuses?) is counter to the Constitution of the U.S. The Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, included a clear separation of church and state. To you 3, I don't see any evidence you are wiser (or nobler) than Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, and the other members of the committee who wrote the Constitution.

Yeb Beirta

Gay couples are paying taxes, contributing to our state, raising and adopting children that were neglected by us straight people....why shouldn't they have the opportunity and freedom to get married? It's a civil marriage with a license given to them by a clerk. Has nothing to do with religion, nor will religious leaders be forced to marry gay couples. This is about equal rights and freedoms. No one's faith should dictate other people's rights....otherwise, we're no better than some of the militant regimes in the middle east. And I resent that this church protesting this tried to represent families. My gay friends in loving, committed relationships raising children they adopted are just as much of a family and deserve the equal access we're all afforded to that marriage license. Stop judging, start living and loving.

Steve Salazar

Liberals are already trying to force religious organizations, including the Catholic Church, to purchase health plans that cover abortive procedures and drugs. You must know that these procedures and drugs are totally against their faith.

So what makes you think that if same sex marriage is ever legalized that these same liberals won't try to force the Churches to perform these marriages?

This has nothing to do with living and loving, it's a liberal power grab.

Ernest Green

I was unimpressed with Councilor Dimas before this vote. Now I'm questioning his purpose as a voting member of the Council. He pushed an increase in safety officers without preparing or presenting any of the necessary cost analysis (including future pension costs), but he considers the right of some Santa Feans to have a family (many in his district), to be below the threshold for debate. His excuses were many. At least Ives had the fortitude to declare concrete reasons for his abstention. This is not the decision making process I want to see in a member of public office. You will be opposed on election day Mr. Dimas.

Mark Ortiz

You are right about his bad judgement. One more reason to oppose Bill Dimas, former Judge. He was the overseeing Judge on John Paul Chavez's 9th DUI. Dimas sentenced him to 365 days, suspending all but 3 days, and I believe a $250-500 fine. Within the year, "John Paul Chavez , in aa 2002 incident, hit Colorado tourists Michael and Helen "Elly" Cote as they crossed a street near the Plaza. Chavez dragged the woman under his truck for several blocks and left her with physical and mental limitations that remain to this day." SFNM

Donald Sure

Marco, you need to get your facts straight. Magistrates only have jurisdiction over offenses charged as 1st, 2nd or 3rd DWI. A ninth offense as you allege would have been before a district court judge as a felony.

I am not sure if any of the DWI charges against this person were dismissed or otherwise adjudicated, but if Judge Dimas hadthe case you allege, it was a misdemeanor, and my guess would be you don't have any clue about the plea the DA offered or the potentially weak case they may have had that resulted in the plea.

Donald Sure

Mr. Green,
I can take or leave Counselor Dimas, but you too need to understand how the city council works. It is very similar to the legislature in that the party sponsoring legislation relies on the staff of the state or city to provide the cost analysis.

When a legislator wants a road built, he doesn't get his pencil and eraser, he asks those who do this for a living to provide the dollar and cents figure.

I think counselor Dimas did have a point in that the council should consider focussing on issues that they have direct control over.

Ernest Green

I'm fine with the process and the need for staff to pull together figures and estimates. What I'm not fine with is folks tasked with fiscal oversight proposing ideas absent the determinant of cost, or in Dimas' proposal, a partial accounting of what would be a recurring annual cost. That's either naivete, ignorance, or willful misrepresentation. Compare that deliberation to the current one: would there be a public cost to voting on a non-binding resolution that positively affects some of the residents in his district? No, not one cent. Whether the Council should be spending time on non-binding issues is another matter, but the fact is that it did, and the man balked at taking a position for the benefit of his constituents rather than a position benefiting himself.

Donald Sure

If it is non-binding, how does it positively effect anything? Also, Apples and oranges in terms of this issue and the need for additional law enforcement.

Red Orgreen

We should just do away with marriage altogether, it no longer means a thing! People are having kids out of wedlock already, cities are collecting fees for licenses, this city should move on to more important issues.

remeyGUI

Decades ago, marriage has been a sacred thing to most believers. But because of changes which is really inevitable today, the context of union of opposite sex has been opposed. This is due to same sex relationship that us we all see are accepted now by the society. Perhaps, the Catholic Church might not convince by the idea but as we all know the state and the church is completely separated . In fact, Former President Bill Clinton is appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which he signed into law, essentially barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. I read it here: Bill Clinton on same sex marriage

Comment deleted.
John McAndrew

"HOW, How can one say, "it is O.K. to marry a person of their own gender, woman/woman, man/man???"

Easily, if you believe that the most important thing, the one essential component to marriage, is love, and the commitment that implies.

Steve Salazar

If people are going to use an alias, they shouldn't link their login to facebook, just sayin'.

Xipe Totec

Dimas's excuse suggests he needs some education on the law. While it may not be a city issue, the Supreme Court is not relevant to the powers of New Mexico to provide marriage equality. The Court will not forbid it, and is extremely unlikely to mandate it under the US Constitution. But that doesn't bear on the issue here. It is a state question, and if you agree with the city attorney, state law permits it now. What we need next is to clean out the religious control of the city council. It is so tiresome to hear these pompous pious Catholics. Grow up, guys.

Comment deleted.
John McAndrew

Remind me again what Jesus said about gay marriage, or homosexuality in general.

Nothing. He said nothing. And if you want to cite the Hebrew Bible's pronouncements on the subject, you open up an entire can of worms.

The truth is, you believe as they did in Animal Farm, that "some . . . are more equal than others." Frankly, I don't care what your holy book says any more than I care what the Quran says on the matter. You are welcome to live by your own lights, but don't try to make those who don't believe as you do live by your beliefs. You don't get to do that.

Comment deleted.
Steve Salazar

I would choose commendation any old day

John McAndrew

[thumbup]

Comment deleted.
Steve Salazar

You mean imposing their "right' on those photographers and florists, by lawsuits.

Steve Salazar

I just drove by the county clerks office, you better hurry and get into line for your same sex marriage license.

torqueflite

Congratulations to Santa Fe, and thank you for supporting marriage equality.

Alicia Dante

IMO this resolution isnt worth the time or money spent on it. Besides the fire dept, we taxpayers also paid overtime to at least 3 police officers who were stationed at city hall that evening. Where was the paid Peso Chavez security guard who although the contract was supposed to be temporary until last Dec is still roaming city hall during the day?

John McAndrew

Those who claim religious justification for opposing this should be ashamed of themselves. They are doing nothing more noble than using their religion aas lipstick on the pig of their bigotry.

Life is hard, and the last thing any god worthy of the title would be interested in doing is denying love - the best thing for making a hard life, or any life, worthwhile.

"If you have not love, you are but a clanging cymbal." Denying the validity of someone's love is like denying them the right to air or water – or the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's unAmerican, and certainly, unequivocally unChristian.

MartinFlores505

[thumbup]

Craig O'Hare

Awesome!! Santa Fe City Council for President in 2016!!

Art Encinias

While I admire the City's stance on marriage equality, I wonder how the resolution can have any practical effect. County Clerks don't answer to any city authority, much less Santa Fe's. And I wonder why the City Attorney issued an opinion on this issue in the first place, since it doesn't seem to bear on any traditional city function. And how come it came up -- not out of any city committee -- but at a press conference? I can't help but consider one councilman's observation that it's all political grandstanding by politicians with one eye on future office and the other on a hot political trend.

I think marriage equality will be a reality in this country sooner, rather than later and, like most Americans, I'm in favor of it. The City's recent action won't advance that one bit - except symbolically -- and, meanwhile, the day-to-day work of the city waits while we hold pep rallies and protests in the City Council chambers on an issue the City can't do anything about. Color me puzzled.

Alicia Dante

I agree with your assessment. As for Coss not voting based on religion why did he then want a change to the nudity laws when some small percentage of Catholics signed a petition saying they were disgusted by the almost nude bike riders who were against oil?
As for the reporter, she needs to get her head on straight. Abstenions are not votes against--they are abstenions. That means the vote was 5-1 with 2 abstentions...

MartinFlores505

[thumbup]

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