Jen Roper, whose struggles with cancer may soon be coming to an end, married her wife, Angelique Neuman, in a small ceremony close to the hospital. The couple had previously filed an emergency lawsuit with the help of the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Sutin Law Firm, and Albuquerque attorneys Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard, and Lynn Perls.
The attorneys, due to the time sensitive nature of the suit, filed an emergency request. On the issue Neuman says, “Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed of growing up and getting married … I knew Jen was the one almost as soon as we met, and I don’t want to lose the opportunity to marry her. It is very important to us that our relationship is recognized as what it is: a marriage.”
The marriage license, which is simultaneously a political gesture standing for equal rights, a personal tribute to the couple’s commitment, and an important safeguard for the eventual surviving members of the family (which include three adopted children), was granted.
“I cried a lot,” Roper told local news station KOAT. “But I was so privileged at being able to be officially and completely recognized as her wife … I feel extremely privileged over the support that we’re getting.”
The decision was made in semi-defiance of the state’s laws, which are at best ambiguous, in that they do not specifically address the issue of same sex marriages. After the landmark decision made about DOMA, lawyers and law makers seem to be clamoring to clarify the situation, leaving decisions like this up to specific clerks.
Hours after Roper and Neumann filed their request, a clerk in nearby Dona Ana county began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming that the state’s marriage statutes were “gender neutral.” Roper and Neumann’s county, Santa Fe, followed suit days later. Then on Monday, a state judge ruled that prohibiting same-sex marriage in New Mexico was unconstitutional, so for now, gay marriage is legal in the state.
Roper’s and Neumann’s situation is similar to that of Cincinnati couple John Obergefell and his terminally-ill partner John, who, back in July, also sought a marriage license. Though they had to go out of state, an Ohio judge ordered the state to recognize their union, breaking new legal ground in the process. So this is literally history in the making.
Carolyn Phillips, an oncology nurse practitioner, was the maid of honor. She has been one of Roper’s caregivers at the hospital. The best man was Karl Krenek, who works with Neuman at Los Alamos. Neuman, after the ceremony, joked: “We should put a sign on the back of your [wheel]chair that says, ‘Just Married.”’
Sorry, we just have something in our eyes, allergies, you know?