New Mexico gays can marry in Massachusetts

New Mexico ’s gay couples can marry in Massachusetts for their home state has not explicitly banned same-sex marriage, officials said.

New Mexico joins Rhode Island as the only states whose gay residents are allowed to marry in Massachusetts, which is the only state that allows same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts' city and town clerks were instructed by the state registrar to give licenses to gay couple from New Mexico in a July 18 notice.

The United States has a patchwork of gay marriage laws, and New Mexico and Rhode Island are the only two that have not specifically banned or allowed the practice. A handful of states recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships with many of the benefits of marriage. They do not recognize gay marriages from Massachusetts.

It was not immediately clear if any gay couples from New Mexico have ever been married in Massachusetts. In February, two measures that would have banned same-sex marriage in New Mexico were killed when a House committee tabled them.

Rhode Island has not yet decided whether to recognize gay marriages from Massachusetts, though the state's attorney general recommends they should.

The marriages of more than 170 couples from New York were deemed valid because they got married in Massachusetts prior to a New York appeals court ruling in 2006 that banned same-sex marriages.

Massachusetts began marrying same-sex couples in 2004. Gov. Mitt Romney then prohibited out-of-state couples from marrying in the state, citing a 1913 law that bars Massachusetts from marrying couples who would be prevented from marrying in their home states.

In March 2006, the state's highest court ruled that gay couples from other states could not marry in Massachusetts if their home state expressly prohibited gay marriage.