Same-Sex Couples Sue for Marriage in New Mexico

Suit argues that state law does not bar gays from marrying

Two same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry filed a lawsuit today after they applied for and were denied marriage licenses by the Bernalillo County (NM) Clerk.

The couples are Miriam Rand, 63, and Ona Porter, 66; and Rose Griego, 47, and Kim Kiel, 44. Rand and Porter live in Albuquerque while Griego and Kiel reside in Santa Fe. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard. The lawsuit was filed in Albuquerque’s district court.

“Ona and I have been together for over 25 years,” said Rand. “Together, we raised children, we took care of our mothers when they were dying and are currently raising our granddaughter. We are family. We love and care for one another through good times and bad. We want our community to recognize our love and commitment for what it is—a marriage.”

The lawsuit claims that the New Mexico marriage statutes and the New Mexico Constitution do not bar same-sex couples from marrying, and therefore the state should issue civil marriage licenses to any same-sex couple who applies for one. 

“The time has come for New Mexico to treat same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect we afford opposite-sex couples,” said Laura Schauer Ives, legal director of the ACLU of New Mexico. “This means allowing loving, committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry. We believe that the New Mexico Constitution guarantees same-sex couples this freedom.

New Mexico is the only state in the country that does not either explicitly recognize same-sex relationships through marriage or civil unions or ban recognition of same-sex relationships by statute or constitutional amendment.

Earlier this week, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and Councilor Patti Bushee announced a resolution recognizing that marriage for same-sex couples is legal in New Mexico and urging county clerks to begin issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

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