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Domestic Partner Bill Advances in New Mexico Legislature

New Mexico’s state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-5 to advance the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, which would allow gay, lesbian, or straight couples to enter into domestic partnerships and receive the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage under state law. The bill now moves toward a floor vote in the Senate.  Similar legislation is pending in the House of Representatives.
 
“The Human Rights Campaign is pleased that the New Mexico Senate has taken this important step toward enacting much-needed protections for all couples in New Mexico, and we’re hopeful that this legislation will ultimately pass the Senate and House, and be enacted into law,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This is simply about making sure that all loving, committed couples in New Mexico receive the equal rights that they and their families need and deserve.”
 
New Mexico’s legislature has considered similar legislation in each of the last two years, and the bill has, in the past, come within a single vote of passing.  New Mexico’s legislative session runs through March 21, 2009.
 
The Human Rights Campaign has a field director and two field organizers on the ground in New Mexico working to organize grass roots support for the domestic partner bill.
 
The proposed legislation would provide unmarried couples, gay, lesbian, or straight, with the opportunity to receive important rights and benefits including, but not limited to, hospital visitation, the right to make a medical decision for an incapacitated partner, the right to file a joint state tax return, and inheritance in the event that a partner dies without leaving a will.
 
Five other states – California, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont — as well as the District of Columbia have enacted domestic partner or civil unions laws that provide the same benefits under state law that would be provided by the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act in New Mexico, if enacted.
 
Two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, recognize marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples under state law.  Three states, Hawaii, Maine, and Washington, provide limited rights to gay and lesbian couples who enter into a domestic partnership or similar relationship. Currently, no gay or lesbian couple receives any of the more than 1,100 federal rights and benefits available to married couples, and the New Mexico bill would not provide any of these rights.
 
Gay and lesbian couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state.  To learn more about state by state legislation visit: www.hrc.org/state_laws.

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