The New Mexico Senate Judiciary
Committee has voted to pass along legislation that would create gay
and straight domestic partnerships in the state to the full Senate.
The Domestic Partner Rights and
Responsibilities Act, introduced as Senate Bill 12 by Senator Cisco
McSorley, has been crafted to give committed gay and lesbian couples
New Mexico falls in the small category
of states that have not acted for or against gay marriage. The state
has come close to passing a domestic partner law in the past and the
state's governor, Bill Richardson, has promised to sign it. The
state has outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and
gender identity since 2003.
The committee voted 6-5 to send the
bill to the full Senate for debate, but stopped short of recommending
approval. Members voted to remain neutral on the bill.
The bill had reached a stalemate on tie
votes. Democratic Albuquerque Senator Bernadette Sanchez, who had
been absent during an earlier vote this month, broke the deadlock
Monday by voting in favor of sending the measure to the full Senate.
“This has been before the Legislature
before and has almost passed,” said Dan Tapper, a member the Las
Cruces chapter of the gay-affirming group Parents, Families and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). “Hopefully, with a slight
change in the composition of our delegation, we might be able to have
Similar legislation has passed the New
Mexico House, but faltered in the Senate. Gay activists are hopeful
the votes of several newly elected Democratic senators will put the
bill over the top.
Members of Equality New Mexico, a gay
rights group headquartered in Albuquerque, rallied at the Capitol
before the committee voted.
“If we don't get the bill this year
... we're going to be back year after year,” Linda Siegle, a
lobbyist for Equality New Mexico, told the Las Cruces Sun-News.