Anthony Gonzales* met his future husband, Mark Johnson, at an Albuquerque gay bar, twenty years ago this month. Soon after, Gonzales and Johnson moved in and began their life together. In 2013, they made their union legally binding when they joined hundreds of other couples on Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza on the first day counties across New Mexico began legally recognizing same sex marriages. Almost six month later, 180 days to be exact, Johnson died of cancer. Now, just weeks before his wedding anniversary, Gonzales has filed a federal civil suit against the U.S. Government’s Social Security Administration for the monetary benefits he said he is owed.
An Albuquerque man who was denied Social Security benefits from his deceased husband intends to bring the issue to federal court. Anthony Gonzales* married his long-time partner Mark Johnson in 2013 in a mass public wedding in downtown Albuquerque. It was the first time same sex couples could legally marry in Bernalillo County**. Almost six months later, Johnson died from cancer. When Gonzales initially filed his claim for Johnson’s benefits, the Social Security Administration denied his request on the grounds that he and Johnson were married for less than nine months, the minimum time required to qualify for benefits.
RUBE RENDER is the Curry County Republican Chairman and a local columnist with the Clovis News Journal. Early in the history of our country, the framers of the Constitution took the position that unless that document specifically authorized Congress to pass proposed legislation, they could not act, even if the legislation served a noble purpose. This situation was illustrated in 1794 when Congress wished to provide funding to French refugees from the Haitian Revolution. James Madison famously stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”
Over the years, amendments have been proposed and ratified to correct existing disparities and injustices. Among these are the 15th and the 19th Amendments.
Most of New Mexico’s congressional delegation praised the United States Supreme Court decision that says same-sex marriage is legal throughout the country. New Mexico’s delegation is made up of four Democrats and one Republican. In recent years, support for same-sex marriage has become an accepted part of the Democratic Party’s agenda, while Republicans have mostly been opposed to extending marriage to same-sex couples. The members of the delegation sent statements out on Friday morning following the ruling. Sen. Tom Udall, the senior U.S. Senator from the state, said that the Supreme Court was not only “on the right side of the law” but also “on the right side of history.”
Same-sex marriage is now legal in every state in the United States after a ruling by the United States Supreme Court. A little more than 11 years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples have the right to marry and that laws that barred such marriages are, in fact, unconstitutional. “Were the Court to uphold the challenged laws as constitutional, it would teach the Nation that these laws are in accord with our society’s most basic compact,” Justice Anthonhy Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “Were the Court to stay its hand to allow slower, case-by-case determination of the required availability of specific public benefits to same-sex couples, it still would deny gays and lesbians many rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.” Within hours, same-sex couples in states that had previously not allowed same-sex marriages were lining up at courthouses to get married.
Same-sex marriage is becoming legalized in states throughout the country and a potential nationwide legalization looms on the horizon. But even if the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of same-sex marriage, these areas will not have legalized same-sex marriage. Some tribes around the country, which are sovereign nations, still do not allow same-sex couples to marry, including the Navajo Nation according to the Associated Press. The Navajo Nation—which spans through portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah—is one of the two largest sovereign Native American tribes in the country. From the AP: Alray Nelson, a gay rights activist who lives with his partner Brennen Yonnie on the Navajo reservation, said the tribe’s law denies same-sex couples the right to be included in decisions on a partner’s health care, or to share in a home site lease.
The United States Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear arguments on the question of same-sex marriage. As of now, 36 states allow same-sex marriage and 14 states ban same-sex marriage. A series of decisions by federal appeals courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans in states across the country, leading to the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court hearing. The decision will likely have no immediate effect on New Mexico. At least, that’s the opinion of Maureen Sanders, an attorney who successfully argued in front of the state Supreme Court that New Mexico’s state constitution required same-sex marriages to be allowed.