LGBTQ Leaders to NM Governor: Prioritize Anti-Discrimination Laws
Tuesday, January 18, 2022
New Mexico's short, 30-day legislative session starts today with a focus on budget issues. Nonetheless, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning supporters are urging the governor to take up equality issues, even as other states consider more restrictive laws.
Three of the issues came up at the Roundhouse last year, says Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, including prohibition of the "panic defense" against LGBTQ people.
"We're ready to make sure that people can't use, 'I panicked when I found out they were queer' - as an excuse for their physical violence," said Martinez.
Already, lawmakers in seven states have proposed laws in this year's sessions that would limit the rights of transgender and non-binary young people - including Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire and South Dakota.
Martinez said Equality New Mexico also would like to see the state modernize its 40-year-old rule that requires anyone seeking to change their name to purchase a 14 day newspaper notice announcing their intention.
He said that's not only an economic issue requiring an attorney to get involved, but also can present physical danger.
"For trans people, that means 'outing' themselves to everyone in their community," said Martinez. "It also impacts victims of domestic violence and victims of stalking. If you're changing your name because your former partner was abusive, you're posting an ad in the newspaper letting them know that you're changing your name."
In 2021, New Mexico's governor signed an executive order requiring state agencies collect information about sexual orientation and gender identity as part of a larger effort to address barriers faced by the LGBTQ community in accessing government services.
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