Two bills under review could impact gay marriage in state

Posted at: 01/29/2013 9:46 PM
Updated at: 01/29/2013 10:23 PM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

New Mexico lawmakers are expected to tackle the emotionally charged issue of gay marriage this legislative session.  There are dueling bills that would have wide-spread impacts if either is passed.

State Representative Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) introduced House Joint Resolution 3, which would allow New Mexico to issue same sex marriage licenses.  The bill also states that no church or religious institution would be required to perform a marriage ceremony or recognize the marriage for religious purposes if it conflicts with the church’s beliefs.

"I think it is critically important that the State of New Mexico acknowledge gay families and tell them that they are part of the social fabric of New Mexico,” Rep. Egolf said. 

State Representative Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) introduced House Joint Resolution 4, which would change the State Constitution to define a marriage between one man and one woman.

"I just believe in the basic foundation of marriage between one man and one woman,” Rep. Espinoza said.  Espinoza added that she doesn’t believe in legislating what people do in their personal lives, but says she feels strongly about defining marriage.

Same sex couples in New Mexico are closely watching what happens in the legislative session.  Albuquerque couple Kristin Orozco Roybal and Georgia Roybal married in Vancouver, Canada and celebrated their marriage in Cabo-San Lucas, Mexico with friends and family.  But when they stepped back into New Mexico, the state did not acknowledge their marriage.

"Right now we have no legal rights whatsoever for anything,” Georgia Roybal said.  “Everything we do as a family-- we have to take so many extra steps.”

Recently Georgia gave birth to a baby girl, Grace. The couple is saving money so that they can pay the attorney and adoption fees for Kristin to legally adopt Grace.  The couple feels legalizing same sex marriages would ease the financial burdens they are going through. 

"This touches us, it's so close to our hearts,” Kristin said. “It’s our family."

Both bills have hurdles in front of them.

Rep. Espinoza has tried to pass similar bills banning gay marriage for years with no success, and the legislature hasn’t been able to pass a domestic partnership bill, much less a gay marriage bill, in its history.