All five New Mexico Republican
gubernatorial candidates are united against a bill that would
recognize gay and lesbian couples with domestic partnerships.
Only Democrat Lieutenant Governor Diane
Denish told the Las Cruces Sun-News that she would sign the
bill if elected.
“I support the domestic-partnership
bill,” said Denish. “This bill is about treating New Mexicans
equally under the law.”
But Denish is the only 2010
gubernatorial candidate that supports recognition of gay couples.
In its third outing, the bill faces a
steep incline to passage. Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled
Senate have weighed down the bill with extra committee hearings
during a tight legislative session scheduled to end in two weeks.
Much like Washington State, the bloated
816-page 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 2007.
Republican candidates for the most part
have kept their opposition to the bill free from anti-gay sentiment,
focusing instead on the bill's usefulness.
“This legislation sets forth simple
contractual rights which individuals can already engage in,” Doug
Turner, an Albuquerque businessman, told the paper. “Today, the
majority of Fortune 500 companies currently provide these benefits
(to heterosexual and same sex couples) as do state entities such as
UNM and cities such as Albuquerque.”
“I would not sign the domestic
partnership bill,” Susana Martinez, district attorney for Do-a Ana
County, said. “It is unnecessary and ill-advised, as most of the
rights can be attained through contracts and by power of attorney.”
But several candidates squarely labeled
the bill an attack on marriage.
Pete Domenici, Jr., an attorney from
Albuquerque, called the measure “a poorly veiled scheme to redefine
traditional marriage, an important institution that is under major
attack and deserves protection.”
“I have voted to defend marriage as a
union between one man and one woman as it is the covenant that
anchors civilization,” Janice Arnold-Jones, a representative from
Albuquerque, said. “I will not support marriage by another name
and would therefore veto this bill.”
Allen Weh, the former chairman of the
New Mexico Republican Party, said the bill “would likely change the
way marriage is defined in our state,” and promised he would veto
Gay marriage became a major issue in
last year's race for New Jersey's top office. In that state,
Governor Chris Christie's win over Democrat Jon Corzine, a gay
marriage supporter, weakened lawmaker enthusiasm for a gay marriage
bill that was eventually defeated. The issue will also dominate 2010
races in Iowa, where all Republican gubernatorial candidates support
restricting marriage to a heterosexual union.
Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat,
has promised to sign the legislation should it reach his desk.
Richardson is term-limited from running again.