A crowd of a few dozen people packed into a room at the Inn of the Governor's Tuesday morning, reacting to arguments being made across the street in the state's Supreme Court with a range of emotions one might expect out of a Breaking Bad watch party.
But projected on a large screen was a webcast of the oral arguments in the case of six same-sex couples versus two county clerks and the state of New Mexico. It was the first time the state's high court has allowed one of its hearings to be broadcast in real time.
The audience laughed at the back-and-forth between the justices and the lawyers, moaned at the dry questions from the justices and murmured in concurrence at arguments made by attorneys on the side of the petitioners.
The same-sex couples, petitioners in the case, argue New Mexico's constitution allows same-sex marriage. New Mexico's statutory language doesn't explicitly permit or forbid same-sex marriage, which created a legal quagmire for the county clerks who issue marriage licenses. The clerks want legal guidance as a result of the confusion, too.
But that legal limbo didn't prevent a same-sex couple of 20 years from Tucson, Az. from getting married in Albuquerque yesterday.
Josefina Ahumada and Helen Battiste—pictured above—say they received their marriage license from the Bernalillo County Clerk. They visited Santa Fe for the hearing, but they didn't make it in time to get inside the courtroom. Outside the court, they streamed the arguments on a smart phone.
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"It seems sort of unreal," says Ahumada. "I'm 67 years old. I'd never thought I'd see this in my lifetime."
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"And I'm 76," adds Battiste, "so we've got to get this moving."