ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - News that the Doña Ana County Clerk started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples spread fast with about 40 couples seeking them Wednesday.
While those couples celebrated their unions in Las Cruces, they recognize it's still a different story around the rest of the state.
"It's very emotional, it just means that, that our home state recognizes us as a couple and as a family," Marikea Brown said.
Brown and her wife, Jeanne Abkes, said they've been waiting 11 years for this day, but that they had no idea their opportunity to wed would be Wednesday.
In fact, none of the couples News 13 spoke with knew of County Clerk Lynn Ellins' plans to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On Wednesday, the clerk said he felt it was just time to move forward.
"The first people that came in said they'd been waiting 31 years to do this. Later on, I got a couple that came in and said we'd been waiting 43 years to do this. Obviously it's time not to wait anymore," Ellins said.
The fact though remains, only one county is currently issuing same-sex marriage licenses in New Mexico.
Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman have been waiting for more than two decades to get married here but time is running out for the couple and their three sons.
"Jen had been diagnosed with the most deadly form of brain cancer and she was given 18 months to live," said Laura Schauer Ives, legal director for the ACLU of New Mexico.
Because of Roper's health, they cannot travel to get married, so with the help of the ACLU, the couple filed an emergency order seeking the issuance of a marriage license from the Santa Fe County Clerk.
"In the short time that they have, they want to be able to get married in front of their family, their friends and their children," Schauer Ives said.
A hearing for the couple's order is set for Monday.
In addition to the 40 or so same-sex couples who sought marriage licenses Wednesday, a heterosexual couple also got their marriage license Wednesday in honor of gay marriage.
The pair said they'd been waiting seven years to tie the knot because they wanted to wait until everyone could get married.
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