Meet the Foltses: First same-sex couple to receive a marriage license from county gives interview with the Record
Curtis and Phillip Folts, who were married Friday morning in Roswell, show off their marriage certificate following the ceremony. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Chaves County Clerk’s Office gave out marriage licenses to gay couples for the first time in the county’s history Friday, following the New Mexico Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that affirmed the legality of gay marriage in the state.
Two gay couples had received licenses from the county clerk as of 4:50 p.m., according to the office.
Chief Deputy Clerk Jeff Ortega said the staff differs on their views on the decision, but that “we’re going to do what the law says.”
“We are public servants and we are going to serve the public,” he said.
The first couple to receive a license was Curtis Folts and Phillip Dorst, who is in the process of changing his last name to Folts. The Record interviewed the pair Friday.
The husbands have been together for five years. Folts said the main motivation for pursuing a license was receiving the benefits that come with it.
He noted that after Ballot Proposition 8 struck down gay marriage in California, couples who had already married were grandfathered in and kept their marriage benefits.
Folts and Dorst are not the first married gay couple in Chaves County, according to Folts. He said that another couple married in California after the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned earlier this year.
Dorst, a transplant from Pleasantville, Ohio, works nights at La Quinta Inn and Suites. Roswell native Folts teaches theater at non-profit Roswell Kids’ Arts Programs and works nights at Best Western El Rancho Palacio. He also volunteers as costume master for Roswell Community Little Theatre.
Record: How long have you guys been planning on getting married?
Folts: Well, we had our sacred union March 8th of 2009. It was a commitment ceremony and we’ve considered ourselves husbands since that day … and we have referred to each other as “our husband,” which for the first six months or so I was really uncomfortable with it, but I got used to it.
Record: Why were you uncomfortable with it?
Folts: A man saying “my husband” in a town full of tea partiers, uh-huh … What I discovered was, if I don’t use any inflection, that [doesn’t give] them permission to question it. They don’t.
Record: Can you tell me a little bit more about what that’s like — to identify as a gay married couple in this area?
Dorst: To be honest, it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Folts: Nobody has said anything directly to us … It seems to me most people just want to live their lives.
Record: Did you plan on being the first [Thursday]?
Folts: Our goal was to be married and the reason we did it early in the morning is because we’re both night workers. We’ve been waiting for this for years, so first opportunity, we jumped.
Record: You guys were the first, so what does that mean?
Folts: It’s wonderful to be a part of history. My family has been here for 108 years and my grandfather built the rock garden that is at the (New Mexico) Military Institute … We’ve been a part of Roswell’s history for a long time and it feels good to be a part of Roswell’s history personally because this is my home. My heart is very much in this town.
Record: What does the license mean to you?
Folts: There’s the legal opportunities and responsibilities — that is the main motivation. The surprising benefit is both of us feel a change in ourselves.
Dorst: I actually feel married.
Record: What has the family reaction been?
Dorst: I don’t really keep in contact with my family so their reaction has been nonexistent for me, but his family reaction has been pretty much, “Yayyyy!”
Folts: Yeah, my family has been wonderful.
Record: So what’s in the future for you guys now?
Folts: Grow old, die, (pause) happy.
Dorst: Being married.
Folts: Pets? We’ve always had those; we love animals.
Dorst: Children scare the crap out of me.
Folts: Which means we may do it someday because that means he cares … but as far as specific goals, really it’s just enjoy our life together.