- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - When Carrie Hamblen heard about the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday morning that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S., the 46-year-old ran to tell her spouse Char Ullman.

“We did it, honey,” the 46-year-old Hamblen said. Then, she embraced Ullman, 53, and the two women joyfully and silently wept in their Las Cruces home.

For gay and lesbian couples in New Mexico, the landmark decision comes almost two years after same-sex couples began marrying in New Mexico, prompting gay rights advocates and their supporters to praise the landmark decision.

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said it was a momentous day for the millions of Americans who now have the freedom to marry regardless of sexual orientation.

“Marriage equality is matter of civil rights and treating all people who are in a loving and committed relationship fairly,” said Lujan, who represents Santa Fe and Taos, two cities that have built themselves up as same-sex marriage destinations sites since 2013.

And Laura Schauer Ives, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, who sparked a series of legal challenges to the state’s same-sex marriage laws, said the ruling is the final nationwide victory to the decades-long freedom to marry movement.

“We in New Mexico can be proud in knowing that, as the 17th state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples, we played an important role in advancing this issue on the national stage to where we are today,” Ives said.

In August 2013, gay couples in New Mexico began getting licenses after Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins said his reading of New Mexico law didn’t prevent same-sex marriages in the state.

Ellins then began issuing licenses and other New Mexico county clerks followed. Hamblen and Ullman were among the first couples to receive licenses.

After Hamblen and Ullman heard of Friday’s ruling, they placed the rainbow flag outside of their Las Cruces home. Hamblen post a photo of the scene on Facebook with the words, “The house where love wins.”

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, who was not attorney general at the time of 2013 change in the state, praised the decision.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is an important step toward greater fairness, dignity, and equality under the law,” he said.

In a statement, Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester said Supreme Court’s decision “does not conclude the debate” on how marriage should be defined.

But Wester also said the church did not want to undermine any couple’s pursuit of happiness. “Although we respectfully disagree with those who would define marriage otherwise,” he said, “we firmly hold that all persons are loved by our compassionate God and deserve the respect and dignity that is inherently theirs as human beings.”

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This story has been corrected to change the language in Hamblen’s Facebook post to “The house where love wins.” It had said, “Love lives here.”

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