Lawmakers in the New Mexico county of
Doña Ana are
backing legislation to create a gay domestic partner law in the
state. The county is the second most populous in the state.
At a Tuesday meeting in Las Cruces,
county commissioners expressed unanimous support for the legislation,
reports the Las Cruces Sun-News.
The Domestic Partner Rights and
Responsibilities Act, introduced as Senate Bill 12 by Senator Cisco
McSorley in the state Legislature, has been crafted to give committed
gay and straight couples marriage-like benefits.
“Domestic partners shall be subject
to the same legal obligations and responsibilities and shall be
entitled to the same protections and benefits as are afforded or
recognized by the laws of the state to spouses, former spouses,
widows or widowers, whether they derive from statute, administrative
or court rule or regulation, policy, common law or any other source
of civil or criminal law,” the bill reads.
“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), who spoke at the meeting.
“Hopefully, with a slight change in the composition of our
delegation, we might be able to have it passed.”
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.
At yesterday's meeting, Doña
Ana county commissioners did not vote on the resolution put forward
by county commissioner Karen Perez, but instead voted on a package of
items that included the resolution calling for support of the
domestic partner law.
There was little opposition evident at
the meeting. But passage of a domestic partner law in 2009 in New
Mexico is far from certain.
The county's resolution will be
hand-delivered to the state Legislature today, the first day of
scheduled hearings on the bill.