PHOTOS: Same-sex couples marry in populous New Mexico counties

It's been a momentous week for the freedom to marry in New Mexico, as same-sex couples in multiple counties in the state have gotten married and been granted legal marriage licenses by county officials. So far, three counties in New Mexico have been ordered by district court judges to end marriage discrimination and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. And county clerks in three additional counties have followed the lead of these rulings by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in their own counties. These steps forward in New Mexico this week bring renewed urgency to why we need the freedom to marry uniformly across the state - and, ultimately, why we need the freedom to marry nationwide.

Last Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an emergency request before the New Mexico Second Judicial District Court requesting the freedom to marry for a woman and her partner, who has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The couple, Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, have been together for over 20 years and are raising 3 children together. The district court judge Alan Malott sided with Roper and Neuman, ordering the county clerks of Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties to begin issuing same-sex couples marriage licenses on Monday, August 26. 

The ruling is based on the gender-neutral language in the state's marriage law and the state constitution's commitment to equality for all residents of New Mexico. It applies to Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County. Couples in those counties - including couples from population center Albuquerque - tied the knot yesterday. Gail and Beth from Albuquerque were able to marry after 28 years of commitment.

The couples also included Pat and Karen, who were the first couple to apply in Bernalillo County. (Photos by Equality New Mexico)

Many other couples also said their vows, promised their commitment to each other, and received legal marriage licenses in the county.

In Santa Fe County, the couples involved in the ACLU and NCLR's lawsuit, Griego v. Oliver also were finally able to marry. 

Rev. Hollis Walker presided over the wedding of Kim Kiel and Rose Griego, lead plaintiffs in the case, saying, "By the authority vested in me by the church and finally by the state of New Mexico, I pronounce you a married couple." (Photos by Santa Fe Reporter)

In three other counties, county clerks have raised their voices in support of marriage and begun issuing marriage licenses, although the actions have not been ordered or authorized by the court. One of the clerks, Doña Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins, has embraced the freedom to marry, demonstrating the urgent need for a decisiving ruling to provide a uniform end to marriage discrimination in New Mexico. (Photo by AP)

In counties across the state of New Mexico, couples are speaking out for why marriage matters and encouraging the community to have a conversation about the freedom to marry. Earlier today in Sandoval County, this couple applied for a marriage license and was denied, and they plan on taking legal action to provoke a fair law throughout New Mexico. (Photo by Equality New Mexico)

Now, it's time for the freedom to marry once and for all across the state of New Mexico. The New Mexico Supreme Court or the New Mexico legislature must provide clarity on the question of whether same-sex couples in every county in the state can marry so that there is a decisive, definitive end to marriage discrimination in the state. (Photo by Equality New Mexico)

Freedom to Marry is proud to partner with Equality New Mexico on a public education campaign to build support for marriage across the state of New Mexico as legal teams continue making the case for equality through litigation in the courts. (Photo by Equality New Mexico)

We hope that the victories this week lead to a decisive ruling finding what a majority of Americans already know: That there's no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage and that same-sex couples throughout New Mexico should have the freedom to marry. (Photo by Equality New Mexico)

Congratulations to all of the couples who tied the knot in New Mexico this week! (Photos by Equality New Mexico)