Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Family & Relationships

Case: Griego v. Oliver

STATUS: Victory, New Mexico

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NCLR filed a lawsuit on behalf of couples Rose Griego and Kim Kiel, Miriam Rand and Ona Porter, A.D. Joplin and Greg Gomez, Therese Councilor and Tanya Struble, and Monica Leaming and Cecilia Taulbee who were denied marriage licenses by New Mexico’s Bernalillo County Clerk.

The lawsuit, filed in state court in Albuquerque, alleges that the New Mexico marriage statutes and New Mexico Constitution do not bar same-sex couples from marrying, and therefore the State of New Mexico should issue civil marriage licenses to any same-sex couple who applies for one. In addition to NCLR, the couples are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Mexico, the law firm Sutin, Thayer & Browne, APC, and local cooperating attorneys Maureen Sanders, Lynn Perls, and Kate Girard.

Rose and Kim have been together for eight years and live in Santa Fe. Kim has two children from a previous relationship, who are now in college. Her children call Rose their stepmother. The couple has experienced firsthand the harms that same-sex couples face when they lack the protections of marriage. A few years ago, Rose was hospitalized. Even though Kim had taken her to the emergency room, the hospital refused to provide Kim with any information about Rose’s condition or treatment. It was only after Rose’s family arrived that Kim was able to learn Rose’s prognosis.

Miriam and Ona have been together for 25 years and live in Albuquerque. When they first started dating, Miriam had one daughter from a previous relationship and Ona had two, all of whom are now adults. Miriam and Ona have always loved each other’s children as if they were their own. Together they are caring for their middle daughter, who has multiple sclerosis, and their granddaughter, who has cerebral palsy. Although Miriam, Ona, and their children are a family to all who know them, Miriam and Ona do not have automatic legal authority to make important decisions for one another or their family, as married couples do, and they have faced restrictive policies that made it more difficult for them to visit, care for, and make decisions for parents and siblings who were ill.

A.D. and Greg have been together for seven years and live in Farmington. Aaron just earned his bachelor’s degree in business management, and Greg works as an interior designer. A.D. and Greg are very committed to their community, both serving on the Board of Directors of an organization that assists area lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning area residents in finding community support, including supportive counseling and medical services. They have maintained a relationship with their former longterm foster child, now 24 years old, who calls them both Dad.

Therese and Tanya have been together for 23 years and live in Jemez Springs, where they own and operate a natural hot mineral water soaking pool. Tanya is also a real estate broker. In addition to running a successful business, both are committed to their community. Tanya has served on the Village zoning committee, and Therese has served on the Jemez Springs City Council.

Monica and Cecilia have been together for 15 years and live in Farmington. Monica teaches music in the Farmington public schools, and Cecilia is a vice president at a local credit union. Cecilia has three daughters from a previous relationship, who have long considered Monica a parent, and Monica has treated them as her daughters. The couples filed suit because they believe the time has come for New Mexico to treat same-sex couples with the same dignity and respect as opposite-sex couples. The couples are asking the courts to confirm once and for all that all same-sex couples are entitled to seek happiness and protect their families through the institution of civil marriage in New Mexico.

In a unanimous decision on December 19, 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the New Mexico Constitution requires the state to allow same-sex couples to marry. The court ruled that county clerks must issue marriage licenses to otherwise qualified same-sex couples and that the State of New Mexico must respect the marriages of all same-sex couples, including those who married before the decision.

Writing for the court, Justice Edward Chavez said that “barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”

 

 

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