A New Mexico lesbian suffering from a life-threatening form of brain cancer has asked a state court to let her legally marry her partner of 21 years.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman filed their emergency request with New Mexico's Second Judicial District Court on Wednesday.

The two women met while attending New Mexico Tech and raised three siblings they adopted.

In recent months Roper's health has deteriorated to the point where she is unable to travel to a state that allows gay and lesbian couples to marry.

“I want to know that my family will be protected if I pass away,” Roper said in a statement provided by the ACLU of New Mexico. “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.”

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

The request was filed on the same day that a New Mexico county began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

(Related: New Mexico county begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.)