After Sante Fe mayor David Coss called on New Mexico’s county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, two lesbian couples filed a lawsuit against the state after their marriage licenses were denied in Bernalillo County.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and local attorneys are representing the couples.
New Mexico is the only state whose marriage laws have always been ambiguous. The constitution does not specifically ban same-sex marriage nor does it allow it.
One couple lives in Albuquerque and the other in Sante Fe, but both applied in Albuquerque, which is the county seat of Bernalillo County.
The full text of the ACLU press release is below.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — 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 Clerk.
The couples are Miriam Rand, 63, and Ona Porter, 66; and Rose Griego, 47, and Kim Kiel, 44. Rand and Porter currently 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, and Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard.
“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. Today we ask the courts to clarify and confirm that same-sex couples may seek happiness and protect their families within the institution of civil marriage in New Mexico.”
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.
“New Mexico has a long history of respecting individual freedom and supporting families,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “These couples want the same opportunity to marry and to take responsibility for one another as other couples.”
The lawsuit was filed in Albuquerque’s district court.
“There is growing support nationwide for the freedom of to marry, with over 50 percent of Americans now saying they support marriage for same-sex couples,” said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is time for this fundamental freedom to be a reality for same-sex couples in New Mexico.”
More information on this case can be found at:www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/griego-v-oliver