ASANTA FE, N.M. ? August 21, 2013 –The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed an emergency request to allow a Pojoaque same-sex couple, Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman, to legally marry immediately because Jen suffers from a a life-threatening form of brain cancer that may prove fatal in the near future.?Roper’s 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 Neuman and their three children will be legally protected should Roper 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.”
Roper and Neuman met in Socorro, N.M., during their first semester at New Mexico Tech, and fell in love almost immediately. Although 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 Neuman 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 Roper’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 Santa Fe County 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 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.”