A forty-four-year-old New Mexico
lesbian who sued to marry her longtime partner died on Friday.
Jennifer Martin Neuman-Roper lost her
battle against a life-threatening form of brain cancer, the
Because of her failing health, Jennifer
and Angelique Neuman-Roper were unable to travel to nearby Dona Ana
County, where its clerk had announced he would begin issuing licenses
to gay couples. The couple filed an emergency request to marry on
the same August day that other gay couples began receiving licenses
in Dona Ana County.
As a result of the lawsuit, a Santa Fe
judge ordered Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to begin
issuing licenses to gay couples. Salazar said she welcomed the
Jennifer and Angelique were married in
the lobby of Santa Fe's Christus St. Vincent Cancer Center on the day
of the judge's ruling by a member of Salazar's staff.
The couple, together more than 21
years, met while attending New Mexico Tech and raised three siblings
they adopted. A memorial service is
planned for November 18 at Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in
“We are deeply saddened by the news
of Jen Neuman-Roper's passing,” ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter
in a statement. “She was a beloved member of her community, a
loving mother and wife, and a trail blazer for marriage equality in
New Mexico. Her participation in the New Mexico freedom to marry
case helped open the door for thousands of same-sex couples to
celebrate their love and commitment in marriage here in our state.
She will be missed.”
Eight out of thirty-three New Mexico
counties are currently issuing licenses to gay couples. The New
Mexico Supreme Court in October heard arguments in a case that seeks
to clarify whether state law prohibits gay couples from marrying. A
ruling is expected soon.