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Gay marriage is now legal in parts of New Mexico, court rules

Gay marriages are now legal in New Mexico's most populous county and the city of Albuquerque, a court ruled on Monday, adding to recent statewide and nationwide victories for gays and lesbians seeking the right to wed .

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Angelique Neuman (l.) and Jen Roper (r.), both of Pojoaque, N.M., celebrate at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, N.M., after receiving a marriage license. Roper, who is dying of brain cancer, was part of a recent lawsuit to get New Mexico courts to recognize same-sex marriages. Santa Fe County was ordered to grant same-sex licenses Friday, Aug. 23, 2013.

ACLU of New Mexico/AP

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Same-sex marriages are now legal in New Mexico's most populous county and the city of Albuquerque, a court ruled on Monday, adding to recent victories for gays and lesbians seeking the right to wed statewide.

Last week, a judge in Santa Fe County ordered the county clerk there to issue same-sex marriage licenses and a clerk in the southern part of the state decided to hand out such licenses independently of any court ruling.

The ruling could set precedent for expanding the right of gays and lesbians to eventually marry statewide in New Mexico, said representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violates the state constitution, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, wrote Bernalillo County Judge Alan Malott in a decision on Monday clearing the way for same-sex marriage in that county.

"Gay and lesbian citizens of New Mexico have endured a long history of discrimination," Malott ruled. "Denial of the right to marry continues this unfortunate, intolerable pattern and establishes irreparable injury on plaintiffs' part."

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. It is one of several cases filed recently in New Mexico on the question of gay marriage.

The case included plaintiffs from Santa Fe County and the judge also ruled that gay marriage licenses should be issued there. But a ruling last week by a different judge had already cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Santa Fe County.

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