ACLU to Court: Let Lesbian With Brain Cancer ‘Immediately’ Marry
(CNSNews.com) –Representing a New Mexico woman with brain cancer, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is asking a state court to allow her to “immediately” marry the lesbian partner she’s lived with for 21 years even though her state does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.
“Because of my illness, we do not have the luxury of waiting years for the courts to decide whether loving, committed same-sex couples can marry in New Mexico,” Jen Roper said in her emergency request, filed with New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court Wednesday by the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).
Roper, who has “a life-threatening form of brain cancer” doctors predict will be “fatal in the near future,” hopes that she can legally marry Angelique Neuman “immediately” to ensure that their three children, adopted from the New Mexico foster care system, “will be legally protected” if Roper passes away.
“It is very important to us that our relationship is recognized as what it is: a marriage,” Neuman said, although the pair already “considers themselves married for the 21 years they have been together,” according to the court filing.
New Mexico statutes do not directly address same-sex marriage, making it the only state in the nation that does not expressly allow or prohibit it. According to section 40-1-1, “Marriage is contemplated by the law as a civil contract, for which the consent of the contracting parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential.”
“After careful review of New Mexico’s laws it is clear that the state’s marriage statutes are gender neutral and do not expressly prohibit Doña Ana County from issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples,” Ellis said. By the end of the day, the county had issued marriage licenses to more than 40 same-sex couples.
“We do not intend to bring any action against the Doña Ana County Clerk,” New Mexico Attorney General Gary King commented, maintaining that “the current law is unconstitutional.”
This was a dramatic shift from King's position just two months ago.
The New York Times reported in June that King had “cautioned city clerks…against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” noting that while the definition of marriage in the New Mexico Constitution makes no mention of gender, marriage license applications contain spaces for “bride” and “groom,” which the attorney general noted at the time were “gender-specific” categories.