March 28, 2023

Guv signed two LGBTQ bills into law Friday

The New Mexico State Capitol, or Roundhouse Wikicommons.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two LGBTQ bills into law on Friday.

HB 207 extends the scope of the New Mexico Human Rights Act to include protections for LGBTQ individuals. Now, a public body cannot discriminate against an individual based on the person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. HB 31 eliminates an antiquated statute requiring publication of a name change.

The New Mexico Human Rights Act, which was written into statute in 1969 and updated in 2003 banned a public school district from discriminating against a potential employee because the person identifies as LGBTQ but did not address whether a teacher could discriminate against a student. The act as it was written stated that no one could be discriminated against for public accommodation but it did not include the words public service, which is what a public educational institution provides.

HB 207 ends the loophole and also prohibits public contractors, in addition to public bodies, from discrimination. The new law also revises the definitions for sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disabilities within the Human Rights Act to be more inclusive and more comprehensive.

Lujan Grisham also signed HB 31 into law on Friday. That bill removed from statute the  requirement that an individual changing their name had to publish a legal notice in a local newspaper for 14 consecutive days. The original statute, written over 100 years ago, prevented individuals who owed money to lenders from changing their name to escape detection for lack of payment. But the old statute has become a safety issue for transgender individuals and for victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault. The old statute also places a financial burden on individuals who, if fleeing a violent home, might be in need of financial support.

The new law also allows an individual 14 years or older to petition a district court for a name change and not necessarily notify both parents if one parent is dangerous to the child.

Both bills are considered to be part of a landmark legislative session for the passage of LGBTQ bills.

Related: 2023 legislative session a landmark one for the LGBTQ bills

State House Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, who sponsored HB 207, said through a news release that “no one should be denied public services simply for being who they are.”

State House Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, who sponsored HB 31, said through the release that “people seeking name changes are often doing so for reasons of personal safety or so they can live authentically as themselves.”

Both bills go into effect on June 16, 2023.