New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee votes 6-5 to advance Domestic Partnership bill
February 16, 2009
HRC's Western Regional Field Director Tony Wagner and field team members Marybeth Lennox and Terry McGuire were part of the action at the Roundhouse in Sante Fe today when the New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 to advance legislation to OK domestic partnerships in the state. The DP bill now moves toward a floor vote in the Senate. Similar legislation is pending in the House of Representatives. Tony Wagner will have a first-hand update on the vote later; however, New Mexico Independent has some of the Back Story:
After a dramatic set of votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee, domestic partnership legislation moved toward consideration by the full Senate minutes ago. Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, an Albuquerque Democrat, cast the critical vote allowing the bill to proceed. Sanchez’ absence from the room during a vote on Feb. 3 resulted in a 5-5 tie that effectively held Senate Bill 12 in limbo. Afterward, Sanchez said had she been there, she would have voted against domestic partnerships. But today she changed her mind. After a first round of voting, from which she was absent, Sanchez came into the committee room and the bill was put to another vote. Citing the recent court decision allowing gay marriage in Connecticut, Sanchez explained why she decided to support sending the bill to the floor. “I really feel, Mr. Chair, that this probably needs to go to the floor for a full hearing [of] the benefits and the consequences of us doing this,” Sanchez said. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, would give straight and gay couples many of the same rights and responsibilities of civil marriage, such as access to health insurance, family medical leave and property rights. It was supported by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Campaign, but opposed by the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last year, domestic partnership legislation died in this same committee. The bill now moves to the Senate floor. If it passes there it goes to the House, where last year it barely passed it by a vote of 33-31. The House version, HB 21 is sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque. Supporters and opponents of domestic partnership legislation had crowded the Roundhouse all day, waiting patiently for hours in a stuffy committee meeting room.
May 18, 2013