Wednesday was a long-awaited day for many same-sex couples in southern New Mexico, as Dona Ana County clerk Lynn Ellins decided, after reviewing New Mexico law, that same-sex marriage should be legal in the state.
And so, this morning, Ellins began issuing marriage licenses to couples.
One such couple was Carrie Hamblen and Char Ullman. The two are active in the LGBT community in the area, in fact they met at a fundraiser for an AIDS support agency seven years ago, and got wind that it might be happening the night before.
Hamblen told NM Telegram that they were the fifth in line at 8:45 in the morning. The staff was helpful and a friend who worked at the clerk’s county took a break and married the two.
“Everyone at the county clerk’s office was so wonderful,” Hamblen told NM Telegram in a short phone interview.
Hamblen said the staff at the county clerk’s office helped walk them through the forms and made sure everything was filled out correctly.
They were not the only couple to get their marriage certificate. Orlando Jimenez and his partner K. Grey Carrillo also filled out their marriage certificate and are now considered married after being together for 13 years.
Unlike Hamblen and Ullman, the two only heard this morning about the clerk’s decision. Jimenez told NM Telegram that the two had dropped their daughter off at school and turned on the news. There was a breaking news bulletin on KVIA saying that the clerk was planning on giving marriage certificates to same-sex couples.
They then realized that something they had been planning for the last three years could happen — they could get married.
Before that, Jimenez said, “We didn’t want to get our hopes up.”
Jimenez said the outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
“Oh Lord, if you look at my Facebook page, it’s close to overwhelming,” Jimenez said when asked about the response. “I’ve got close to 200 people who have either liked my statuses or people who have actually put stuff on my page.”
“I know that there’s naysayers out there, but they haven’t commented at all,” Jimenez said.
Hamblen said it was about more than just her and her partner (she said her partner and herself would continue to refer to each other as ‘partner’ instead of wife, although they have no real objection to being called wives). She said it was also about helping to move the LGBT movement forward towards same-sex marriage in the state.
Like many other in the LGBT community, Hamblen hoped this was just a first step towards statewide marriage equality.
Jimenez had a broader take on being able to be married.
“I can’t say that we just did it just for the LGBT community, but we’re doign it for the human race,” Jimenez said. “And for our child that way she knows that her dads can be married and be happy.”
For Hamlen and Ullman, it was something they had been thinking about for some time but ended up being almost a last minute thing.
“About 8:45 my partner was going through her dissertation in her coffee shop and I sent her a text saying, ‘You wanna get married?’” Hamlen said. Ullman said yes and they were among the first in line.
One key point that Hamlen mentioned was the Defense of Marriage Act being overturned by the Supreme Court.
“We’ve always wanted to get married, but we wanted to get married where we would have the same rights as everybody else,” Hamlen said. “Given that New Mexico didn’t recognize same-sex marriage yet, it really didn’t serve our purpose of wanting to have that security that any heterosexual couple would have in terms of the same rights that are allowed.”
Jimenez said he and his partner are thinking of a small, intimate service and ceremony “just for close friends and family and then doing something big later on.”
There is, however, some concern that the marriages may be reversed somehow. Jimenez said that he is concerned that Susana Martinez, who does not support same-sex marriage, and Republicans will attempt to reverse his marriage.
“It’s a great day in New Mexico,” Jimenez said, almost overcome with emotion. “It really is a great day in New Mexico today for a lot of people.”