MARRIED IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT
Sonia E. Rodriguez-Ortega & Dianna Kaye | Albuqerque, NM
It's been a busy few months for Sonia E. Rodriguez-Ortega and Dianna Kaye, who live in Albuqerque, New Mexico with their dogs. Just over two months ago, in September 2013, they applied for and received a marriage certificate, becoming one of the first couples in the state to marry.
The chance to get married came as a surprise for the couple, who are looking forward to leading the rest of their lives together. In September, district judges in several counties - including their own Bernalillo County - ruled that no laws in New Mexico preclude same-sex couples from marrying. They jumped at the opportunity to declare their love for each other and join together in marriage.
Beyond the basic protections and security that marriage provides for Dianna and Sonia - Dianna, a graduate student, can now access Sonia's health care benefits, for example - they wanted to have the chance to have their commitment respected under the law.
"We are madly in love with each other," Dianna said. "And what better way to say and show that than to hold each other's hand and declare it to each other with your closest friends and family present? We are romantics at heart."
Although Dianna's family couldn't make the ceremony on such short notice - they all live outside of New Mexico - Sonia's entire family gathered together in Albuquerque on September 21, 2013, to watch the couple marry in their home.
"It was absolutely beautiful and magical," Dianna said. "There were a lot of tears and much happiness."
That's why they want to ensure that all same-sex couples in New Mexico are able to marry. On Wednesday, October 23, the New Mexico Supreme Court heard oral arguments about marriage for same-sex couples, and they are expected to issue a ruling soon. Sonia and Dianna - and the 900 other same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico - hope that the Supreme Court rules on the side of love, commitment, and family.
For Dianna and Sonia, the exciting momentum emerging from New Mexico is just the latest in a fast and exciting year of wonderful steps forward in the campaign to win marriage nationwide. They specifically remembered how amazing it was to learn that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act had been struck down on June 26, 2013.
"Sonia was at work when the DOMA decision came down, so I texted and called her to keep her updated," Dianna said. "She cried, and I cried, and I felt incredibly overwhelmed. There really are few words to describe how it felt. To be told you are 'not right' your entire life by the larger society, your own family, and the legal system, is beyond degrading."
She elaborated on the far-reaching ramifications of the Supreme Court decision - the feeling of hope that she and Sonia and so many other loving couples felt when the core of the anti-marriage law was struck down - the light that has begun to emerge after many years of grey clouds and uncertainty.
"I am happy to live in a time where I am watching history unfold - where I see a social movement making such progress," Dianna said. "The DOMA decision has made it possible for the LGBTQ community everywhere, in every state, to hold their heads a little higher. DOMA has made the fight for equality more possible. For so long, there was no legal backing for many of us - no recourse - and now, each state has to pay a little more attention, has to acknowledge the federal law."
Dianna and Sonia both hope that the New Mexico Supreme Court rules on the right side of history when it makes a decision in the marriage case, hopefully before the end of 2013. They know that they are lucky to live in a county in a state where they can marry, and they are excited to see the rest of New Mexico extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. "The fight is far from over," Dianna said, transferring the hope she felt after the Supreme Court ruled on marriage to her feelings about the New Mexico Supreme Court. "But the fight has begun. And we are gaining ground."