ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—

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From dying cancer patients to one of the state's top lobbyists on gay issues, more than 1,400 same-sex couples had been married in New Mexico even before the state Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the state Constitution means the government cannot treat people differently based on sexual orientation.

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Among the other top New Mexico stories of the year:

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DROUGHT AND FLOODS

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At its peak during the summer, maps of the state showed it awash in red as the two worst categories of drought—extreme and exceptional—plagued more than 90 percent of New Mexico.

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Despite opposition from some teachers and Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Susana Martinez's administration moved forward in 2013 with a new teacher evaluation system.

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The heavy emphasis on test scores has been a point of contention, sparking protests, talks of strikes and a lawsuit by teachers unions and some lawmakers. A state District Court judge in November refused to stop implementation of the system, but the unions and some lawmakers want to take their case to the Court of Appeals. They claim the system violates state laws.

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For a second year, the fight by a small slaughterhouse in Roswell to resume domestic horse slaughter made national headlines with high-profile legal wrangling and a series of false starts.

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Valley began the year fighting in court to force the Department of Agriculture to permit its operations in light of congressional action in 2011 that lifted a ban on horse slaughter. But once it did, The Humane Society of the United States and other groups sued to block Valley's plans to open in August. The animal groups lost the suit but won another temporary order on appeal that was later lifted.

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The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals still must hear the case, and New Mexico Attorney General Gary King stepped into the fray in December with state action seeking to halt Valley's plans.

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ABORTION BAN

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Unable to make headway in the Legislature, abortion opponents led by former Operation Rescue interns Tara and Bud Shaver gathered enough signatures to place a late-term abortion ban on the municipal ballot.

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Voters rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent following an emotional and graphic campaign that brought in national groups and hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising.

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A shake-up of the state's mental health services caused disruption and difficulties for patients and prompted lawsuits by media groups after the Human Services Department and Attorney General Gary King both refused to release an audit that reportedly found possible overbillings and fraud.

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Legislators have sharply criticized the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez for failing to give providers an opportunity to review and respond to the fraud allegations before freezing their Medicaid payments. The department has contracted with Arizona companies to take over for some of the suspended providers.

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The Emmy-award winning series "Breaking Bad" ended its popular run after five seasons, and the city of Albuquerque spent the last half of 2013 struggling to say goodbye.

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"Breaking Bad" followed former high school teacher Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, as he made and sold methamphetamine with former student Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul. 

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In January 2013, a New Mexico teenager was accused of gunning down five family members, sending shockwaves through Albuquerque's law enforcement and religious communities. Authorities said Nehemiah Griego, 15, shot his mother with a .22-caliber rifle as she slept. He then killed his 9-year-old brother and two younger sisters after they woke up and became upset. He then ambushed his father as he returned home from an overnight shift at a rescue mission, shooting him once in the back and chest and twice in the head.

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Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston has said the teen told detectives he was angry with his mother and had been having homicidal and suicidal thoughts.

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Three years after a dramatic Arizona prison break and the gruesome murder of a retired Oklahoma couple who crossed paths with the fugitives on a New Mexico highway, inmate John McCluskey was brought to trial in the first federal death penalty case in the state in nearly a decade.

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The Haases were high school sweethearts and recent retirees who were targeted by the fugitives at a rest stop near the Texas-New Mexico border. Within an hour of being carjacked, they had been shot to death and their bodies left to burn inside their travel trailer on a remote ranch in eastern New Mexico.

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POLICE SHOOTINGS

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In a six-week span from late October to early December, Albuquerque police were involved in five shootings, bringing to 35 the number of shootings officers in the state's largest city have been involved in since 2010.

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After then-police chief Ray Schultz ordered a 2011 study, the department made changes in oversight, training and hiring of officers in response to the shootings and several other high-profile abuse cases.

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