A vivid mural by artist Federico Vigil dominates the interior of the Santa Fe County Commission chambers. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Guadalupe, the fresco is topped with the message: “Equal justice under law.” The words gained new meaning when Santa Fe began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last week.
Mid-afternoon on Friday, couples started trickling into the County Administration building seeking licenses. Soon, they were flowing through the doors. Among them were Yon Hudson and Alex Hanna—whose court case was responsible for opening the floodgates. Still weighing the merits of the case, District Judge Sarah Singleton had earlier in the day ordered County Clerk Geraldine Salazar to start issuing the licenses or appear in court with a reason why she wouldn’t. Salazar acquiesced.
“I’ll sign this one myself,” the clerk said as the couple looked on. “Now is the time to right the wrongs of hundreds of years of oppression,” Salazar later told SFR.
While two clusters of couples tied the knot right away in group ceremonies in the chambers, and others were also married on the spot, not all of the more than 170 couples to receive a license in Santa Fe before press time are rushing to the big day.
Hudson says he and Hanna will wait until same-sex marriage is available statewide. His partner smiled in disbelief. “It’s amazing how quickly it turned around after a lot of work,” Hanna said. Asked to describe their journey, Hudson’s answer was succinct: “Worthwhile.”
Among those present for what turned into an afternoon of celebration in the chambers last week was City Councilor Patti Bushee. “I’m just thrilled,” said Bushee, the city’s only openly gay elected official and a candidate in this spring’s mayoral race. “I got to be here to witness a momentous occasion, but also to see dear, old friends seal the deal.”
Upstairs, inside the chambers, SF County Commissioner Liz Stefanics and her partner of over 20 years, Linda Siegle, couldn’t wait. In front of a few friends who doubled as witnesses, the pair was the first same-sex couple to be legally married in the nation’s oldest capital.
“It was unexpected,” Stefanics told SFR. “I got a call saying, ‘If you come over, [Salazar] will be doing it this afternoon,’ so really it was spur of the moment.”
Ask any bride, and she’ll say an impromptu service planned in an hour and featuring paper bouquets and apple cider served in Solo cups is far from a “dream wedding.” Still, Stefanics wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“It was perfect!” she beamed. “Just perfect.”