Longstanding LGBT protections could hinder same-sex marriage fight

Posted at: 08/28/2013 6:17 PM
By: Ryan Luby, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Republican leaders in New Mexico vow to challenge the same-sex marriage rulings, but they could face an uphill battle due to longstanding protections afforded to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

In 2003, New Mexico legislators passed legislation that made it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in matters of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and union membership.

KOB Eyewitness News 4 confirmed that at least two large employers in the state grant benefits to same-sex couples, including Sandia Laboratories and the University of New Mexico.  University regents adopted the policy in 1994. 

Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Los Lunas, an outspoken critic of the same-sex marriage rulings, agreed that New Mexico’s longstanding protection of the LGBT community could present a challenge for him and other critics.

Baldonado has not criticized the principles of same-sex marriage, rather the process in which New Mexico counties have begun to grant marriage licenses.

“To circumvent the [legislative] process, and find a solution through the courts -- it undermines the voice of the people,” he said.  “"this issue was in the committee structure last year, and failed not because all of the republicans didn't vote for it, but it failed because some democrats didn't vote for it either."

Baldonado said same-sex marriage licensing should be debated at the State Capitol, just like the legislation in 2003.

Republican leaders have not yet formally challenged the same-sex marriage rulings.