Third time was not the charm for gay
and lesbian couples in New Mexico, where ten Democratic senators
crossed the aisle to join all fifteen Republican senators in
defeating a bill that would have created gay and straight domestic
partnerships in the state.
Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Senator
Cisco McSorley, a Democrat from Albuquerque, was voted down by a vote
of 25 to 17 today.
The New Mexico House, which has passed similar measures in previous sessions, will most likely not have a
full vote on the measure.
If passed, the bill would have granted
committed gay and lesbian couples marriage-like benefits.
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.
Gay activists were counting on
composition changes in the Senate to work in their favor this year.
But the result was disaster. Supporters had in fact lost ground when
compared to 2007 results, when the measure lost by a single vote. In
2008, the bill died in a Senate committee.
Senator Bernadette Sanchez, the
Democrat who broke the deadlock in committee by voting in favor of a
full vote after “taking a walk” on the first tally, voted against
the measure. (“Taking a walk” is when a legislator excuses
himself/herself from the chamber to avoid voting on a bill. Sanchez
denies she ditched the vote; she claims she was pulled away by an
important phone call.)
Sanchez was joined by another nine
Democrats, they were: Carlos Cisneros, Pete Campos, Timothy Jennings,
Lynda Lovejoy, Richard Martinez, George Munoz, John Pinto, John
Arthur Smith and David Ulibarri.
The New Mexico Conference of Catholic
Bishops had expressed strong opposition to the bill.