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New Mexico Couples Sue for Equal Marriage Rights

By Trudy Ring

Two same-sex couples in New Mexico filed suit Thursday seeking equal marriage rights for all such couples in the state.

Miriam Rand, 63, and Ona Porter, 66, of Albuquerque, and Rose Griego, 47, and Kim Kiel, 44, of Santa Fe, filed the suit in Bernalillo County District Court in Albuquerque after they were denied marriage licenses by the county clerk.

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, notes a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the groups representing the couples. Others involved in the legal representation are the national American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, Albuquerque law firm Sutin, Thayer, and Browne, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard.

Earlier this week, Santa Fe’s mayor and other city officials said same-sex couples should be able to obtain marriage licenses in New Mexico, as the state’s marriage law is gender-neutral. However, county clerks expressed reluctance to issue the licenses, as the state attorney general stopped one clerk from doing so in 2004.

“The time has come for New Mexico to treat same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect we afford opposite-sex couples,” ACLU of New Mexico legal director Laura Schauer said in the press release.

“Marriage matters,” added Rose Griego. “Kim and I have already made a lifelong commitment to one another, but marriage says ‘family’ in a way that no other word can. It’s important to us that the State of New Mexico — our home, the place where we live, work, and raised our family — recognizes and respects our relationship.”
 

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