The prospects for approval of a bill
that would recognize gay couples with domestic partnerships in New
Mexico have dimmed considerably after lawmakers decided to route the
bill to a third committee, the New Mexico Independent reported.
Members of the Senate Public Affairs
Committee agreed to send the 816-page bill to the Senate Finance
Committee. The bill also needs the approval of the Senate Judiciary
Committee before reaching the Senate floor.
Proponents say the move has likely
doomed the bill.
“Three committee assignments would
kill this bill,” State Senator Eric Griego, a Democrat from
Albuquerque and gay marriage proponent, said before voting.
The detour is likely to slow down the
bill, which already faces the daunting task of being approved by both
chambers of the Legislature in the next 15 legislative days.
Much like Washington State, the bill
seeks to grant nearly every right and obligation of marriage to gay
and lesbian couples. Lawmakers in Washington State, however,
gradually expanded on a minimal domestic partnership law approved in
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a
Democrat, supports the legislation, while the New Mexico Conference
of Catholic Bishops has expressed strong opposition.
Last year, ten Democratic senators
crossed the aisle to join all fifteen Republicans in defeating a
similar measure. Bills that would recognize gay unions have been
defeated three straight years in a row.
New Mexico falls in the small category
of states that have not acted for or against gay marriage. The state
has outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity since 2003.