New Mexico's Supreme Court unanimously declared it unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples Thursday afternoon, making the state No. 17 in the union (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize gay unions.

"New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections and responsibilities of marriage laws," the Court's opinion states.

But "[t]he court ruling might not end the debate in the Legislature over gay marriage," the AP reports:

Sen. William Sharer, a Farmington Republican who opposes gay marriage, has said a constitutional amendment will be needed to resolve the issue regardless of the outcome of the court case.

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