Skip to comments.Couples Take Vows, Vow To Continue Fight (New Mexico)
Posted on 02/21/2004 2:07:40 PM PST by woofie
There were more hugs Friday at the Sandoval County Courthouse than at a big family reunion.
Bear hugs, clinches, embraces of all durations were on display as New Mexico experienced its first same-sex wedding day.
It was a day that had several dozen couples getting married or waiting in line to do so, holding close when it happened, and then again when it didn't.
Even after New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid jumped into the ring and put a stop to the controversial nuptials and canceled all the weddings that had taken place earlier, the hugs continued. So did refrains from "We Shall Overcome."
Most of the 60 or so marriages were performed by the Rev. David Gant, pastor of Emmanuel Metropolitan Community Church, a gay and lesbian denomination.
"I heard the news this morning," Gant said, "threw on a collar and hopped over here. It's a great, great day."
Earlier, Gant married Mary Ramos, a pediatrician, and Dair Obenshain, a schoolteacher. The couple had waited 17 years for Friday, and when Gant told them they could kiss each other, it was over. It had taken four minutes. The pair kissed and hugged, of course.
Five hours later, the couple were back home in Albuquerque and filled with disappointment, due to the announcement by Madrid.
"We were going to a celebration party tonight," said Obenshain, "but now we won't. Still, it's a step forward."
"We've been a family for a long time," Ramos had said earlier. "We are as stable as can be, probably more so than many heterosexual couples."
The pair is rearing two small children, and Ramos is the birth mother of both.
"We're an old married couple," Ramos said.
The scene Friday at the courthouse went from gladness to sadness to hopefulness as couples there, mostly female, started showing up at 9 a.m. and were still hanging around at almost 5 p.m., an hour after they had been told to leave the building.
By noon, a long, happy and expectant line snaked out of the county clerk's office and down a hall. By 3 p.m., that line had descended a flight of stairs to the first floor.
Some couples got dressed up, but most wore jeans. This was, after all, Casual Friday, and many came to Bernalillo from work.
Many couples held a single rose each as they registered and paid $25 for a marriage license, then went downstairs and out the courthouse's back walk or lawn for a service, then back up stairs to have their license filed.
When a couple came out of the clerk's office with a signed and documented license, other couples and friends cheered and hugged. Digital cameras clicked, camcorders whirred. More hugs.
History was being made, even if for a while. By mid-afternoon Friday, a group in line broke out with a rendition of the old Dixie Cups number "Chapel of Love," inserting to wild applause "Goin' to the Bernalillo of love."
The county clerk's office was sent into a mild frenzy.
"We usually get only one wedding license application a day," said Melinda Foster, an administrator. By 3:15 p.m., more than 60 licenses had been issued. Someone then noticed that County Clerk Victoria Dunlap had disappeared.
When the weddings were called off in the late afternoon, disappointment filled the voices of Richard Lucero and Kenneth Rivera, who had waited in line for almost an hour. The two have been partners for almost 16 years.
"We didn't need a piece of paper," said Lucero. "But we wanted it to be as equal as anyone else."
Lucero, from Rio Rancho, is a hairdresser, and he had canceled his appointments to come to Bernalillo on Friday.
"People just don't understand what we're trying to do here. It's not that we went to a bar and picked someone up and decided to get married. It doesn't work that way for us or for heterosexuals. This is all about commitment."
Well, there's a middle ground of "civil unions"; some of the things gays are asking for make sense, and should also be available to other pairs of people who would be inelligible to marry. For example, in many states, a widow or widower may often inherit the spouse's assets without probate but there is no way for a person to designate someone other than a spouse to be a no-hassle inheritor of assets. I see nothing wrong with having a civil procedure by which a person declares before death that some other person should receive their inheritance. Indeed, this would make a great deal of sense in some family situations where the notion of "marriage" would be absurd.
The term "family" is often used to refer to people who happen to share a household, but the real meaning goes much deeper; it refers to a collection of people, wherever residing, who are connected by blood or regarded as being so.
Any person of proper breeding will have one mother, one father, two grandmothers, and two grandfathers. Whether or not the individuals are alive, and whether roles are physically biological or merely socioligical, a person's ancestry represents a perpetual and unchangeable part of the person's identity.
In another thread, I suggested one case where I thought a homosexual person should probably be allowed to adopt: if the only living relative of an orphan happens to be gay, that should not disqualify that person from adopting his nephew/cousin/whatever. And I think I just realized part of why I would view that as acceptable: because the child would recognize his ancestry as having come through his mother and father, even if they were no longer around to raise him. That, of course, is a very different situation from what would be seen in most homosexual adoptions were the floodgates to be opened.
"COUPLES" MEANS ONE OF EACH SEX!
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