SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Insurance companies in New Mexico must provide same-sex married couples with the same discounts and benefits offered to opposite-sex married couples, the state insurance regulator announced Wednesday.
Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said couples with valid marriage licenses — regardless of their sexual orientation or gender — must be treated equally and without discrimination by insurers.
“This is an important step forward for New Mexico,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement. “Superintendent Franchini’s guidance appears to be the first official statement that the marriages of same-sex couples will be respected by a New Mexico state agency in carrying out its enforcement duties.”
Eight counties have started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples since late August, and the state Supreme Court is considering a lawsuit that could determine whether gay marriage is legal statewide.
State statutes do not explicitly authorize or prohibit gay and lesbian couples from being married.
In his directive to insurers, Franchini cited an equal rights provision in the New Mexico Constitution and a recent Supreme Court ruling that a commercial photography business owned by opponents of same-sex marriage violated a state anti-discrimination law by refusing to take pictures of a gay couple’s commitment ceremony.