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With Less Than 18 Months To Live, She Wants To Get Married

James Esseks,
Director, LGBTQ & HIV Project,
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August 21, 2013

Our freedom to marry lawsuit in New Mexico has just gotten more urgent.

Jen Roper and Angelique Neuman have been together for over 21 years. They met as students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1992, became friends and then partners. Early on in their relationship, Angelique lent Jen her mother’s engagement ring, which led to a discussion of marriage, and they got engaged right then. In the years since, they adopted three brothers from the New Mexico foster care system, nurtured their sons for the past 12 years, and just watched their oldest enlist in the U.S. Army last spring.

Jen and Angelique hoped that New Mexico would get around to allowing same-sex couples to marry sooner or later, and assumed that they had plenty of time. But last December, Jen was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive brain cancer. Even with treatment, she was given 18 months to live.

According to Angelique: “I knew right away that our lives had changed forever, and that my time with the love of my life would be cut short.”

Jen had surgery to remove part of the tumor last Christmas Eve, and suffered a stroke shortly thereafter. Jen is now receiving in-patient treatment in an assisted living facility and cannot travel. Angelique spends as much time with Jen as she can, knowing that they don’t have much time left.

Jen and Angelique want to marry because they want to show their sons what their relationship means. They want to secure the same state and federal protections that all other married couples get. And, on Jen’s death certificate, they want Angelique to be listed as the surviving spouse.

Jen and Angelique can’t wait any longer for the state to evolve on the freedom to marry. They don’t have years, and they may not even have months. So today we asked the court for an emergency order allowing Jen and Angelique to get married in New Mexico. We’ll keep you posted on what the court says.

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