(Santa Fe, NM, August 21, 2013)—Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, the national ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed an emergency request with New Mexico’s Second Judicial District Court to allow a Pojoaque same-sex couple, Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, to legally marry immediately because Jen suffers from a severe medical condition that may prove fatal in the near future. Jen suffers from a life-threatening form of brain cancer, and her health has deteriorated severely in the past few months. Today’s request seeks an emergency order from the court that would allow the couple to marry so that Angelique and their three children will be legally protected should Jen pass away.
“I want to know that my family will be protected if I pass away,” said Jen Roper. “Angelique and I have been married in our hearts for 21 years and raised three wonderful children together. 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. For us, the time is now.”
Jen and Angelique met in Socorro, NM during their first semester at New Mexico Tech, and fell in love almost immediately. Although the State of New Mexico does not recognize their relationship, the couple considers themselves married for the 21 years they have been together. The couple settled in Northern New Mexico after the Los Alamos Labs hired Angelique to work as an engineer. Later, they adopted three siblings from the New Mexico foster care system. Their oldest child is enlisted in the U.S. Army and is currently in basic training.
Due to Jen’s sudden and severe illness, the couple cannot travel out of state to marry in a place that does not discriminate against same-sex couples. The only way they can hope to protect their family in this time of crisis and realize their dream of being legally married is for the New Mexico courts to grant emergency relief that would allow the County of Santa Fe to issue them a marriage license now, while the case proceeds.
“Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed of growing up and getting married,” said Angelique Neuman. “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 plaintiffs are represented by the ACLU of New Mexico, the national ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Sutin Law Firm, and Albuquerque attorneys Maureen Sanders, Kate Girard, and Lynn Perls.
Erik Olvera, National Center for Lesbian Rights, (415) 365-1324, EOlvera@NCLRights.org
Micah McCoy, ACLU of New Mexico, (505) 266-5915 x1003, MMcCoy@ACLU-NM.org
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU National, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666, Media@ACLU.org