New Mexico

With less than 18 months to live, N.M. woman wants to marry partner of 21 years

ACLUJen Roper and Angelique Neuman, with their three children, in an undated photo.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, with their three children, in an undated photo.

SANTA FE, N.M. — Attorneys for a same-sex couple in Santa Fe on Wednesday filed an emergency request asking the Second Judicial District Court to allow them to legally marry because one of the women suffers from a severe medical condition that may prove fatal in the immediate future.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, the ACLU, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed the request on behalf of Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, of Pojoaque, N.M., declaring in the court documents that Roper suffers from a life-threatening form of brain cancer, and her health has deteriorated severely in the past few months.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, with their three children, in an undated photo.

The request seeks an immediate order from the court that would allow the couple to marry so that Neuman and their three children will be legally protected should Roper die before the state courts can rule in lawsuits seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in New Mexico.

“I want to know that my family will be protected if I pass away,” said 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.”

The couple met in Socorro, N.M. in 1992 during their first semester at New Mexico Tech University, and fell in love almost immediately, they said.

Although the state does not recognize their relationship, the couple considers themselves married for the 21 years they have been together. They settled in northern New Mexico and later 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.

Roper had surgery to remove part of the tumor last Christmas Eve, and suffered a stroke shortly thereafter. She is now receiving in-patient treatment in an assisted living facility and cannot travel. Neuman spends as much time with Jen as she can, knowing that they don’t have much time left.

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Even with treatment, she was given 18 months to live.

The couple says the only way they can hope to protect their family during 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 Santa Fe County to issue them a marriage license now.

“It is very important to us that our relationship is recognized as what it is: a marriage.”

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