Equality New Mexico endorses 15 legislative candidates

A New Mexico-based LGBTQ rights organization endorsed 15 candidates for state House and Senate seats for the 2024 elections.  Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said these early endorsements of candidates were for those who have been regularly proactive about supporting the LGBTQ community in New Mexico. Many of them have sponsored bills […]

Equality New Mexico endorses 15 legislative candidates

A New Mexico-based LGBTQ rights organization endorsed 15 candidates for state House and Senate seats for the 2024 elections. 

Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said these early endorsements of candidates were for those who have been regularly proactive about supporting the LGBTQ community in New Mexico. Many of them have sponsored bills that EQNM supports, such as the Reproductive and Gender Affirming Healthcare bill that state Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, sponsored last year. Gov. MIchelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law. It protects individuals who seek reproductive or gender affirming healthcare from discrimination from public bodies.

Martinez also said the 14 incumbents in the list have regularly and reliably reached out to EQNM to ask how they can lead in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Martinez said that, in addition to carrying bills, the support can take a less visible path such as asking for talking points on a bill or going to talk to other legislators about bills. 

“We chose people who are always a reliable vote on things we and our partners care deeply about but also, they are collaborators and a leader and don’t wait for us to call them. And none of them introduce a big gay bill we find out about later,” Martinez said.

The one non-incumbent EQNM endorsed is Marianna Anaya*, who is running for an open seat. Martinez said Anaya has been a leader in the LGBTQ community as an organizer for over a decade and last year worked as a lobbyist for EQNM and other partner organizations. He credited Anaya’s work supporting a number of bills that became laws in 2023.

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

“If not for her being a really engaged member of the team, we wouldn’t be the safest state in the nation for queer and trans people,” Martinez said. 

Martinez said that EQNM endorses candidates because “right-wing conservative folks who hate the LGBTQ community will not stop organizing just because we won last year [with the enactment of several laws].” He said that attacks at the national level are the reason why state-based elections and policy work matters. 

“We may not have enough power to alter presidential elections or alter Supreme Court decision making, but we can try to put up whatever safeguards we can think of here in New Mexico,” Martinez said. 

The Candidates for House

Marianna Anaya 

Marianna Anaya is running for HD 18, which was represented by Majority Floor Leader Gail Chasey for 27 years. Chasey announced at the end of this year’s legislative session that she would not seek reelection. HD 18 includes the University of New Mexico’s main campus.

Anaya faces three other primary candidates, Gloria Doherty, Juan Larranaga and Anjali Taneja. The winner of the Democratic primary on June 4 will not face a Republican opponent in the general election.

Anaya called the endorsement “all about trust” and an honor and said that it’s important to remember how LGBTQ individuals are engaged in all issues.

“Every issue is a queer and trans issue because queer and trans people are a part of every single community. It affects queer and trans folks just as much as it does everyone else,” she said.

Anaya said she has built trust and relationships with many individuals and groups and that as someone who grew up in Albuquerque in the North Valley, she had what she called “fairy gay parents.” She said her family both mentored her as well as gave her food and shelter and she feels very motivated to getting elected and work toward the enactment of the Paid Family and Medical Leave bill, which has died in the final days of the legislature for the last two years when some Democrats have sided with Republicans to defeat it. One of the controversies around the bill has been the definition of family. Anaya said the family that raised her were not genetically related.

“For me, it’s really important to have this type of representation in the legislature to speak first-hand on issues like that, specifically, on definitions of family in the PFML,” she said. 

Rep. Charlotte Little

Rep. Charlotte Little, of San Felipe Pueblo, represents HD 68, in the northwest corner of Albuquerque. She said she won her last election by 35 votes and that she expects to face a tight race. She does not face a primary but the winner of the Republican primary will challenge her in November. She has served in the House since 2022.

Little called the endorsement “very humbling” and said the endorsement is important to her because she has seen firsthand what can happen when an LGBTQ individual is not supported. She spoke of someone she grew up with who faced discrimination as an LGBTQ individual and she said it was “tragic.”

Little was a cosponsor in 2023 on the Reproductive and Gender Affirming Health Care bill

She said she has lived in the district for over 30 years and she has seen it change. But she said it is a swing district. She said that as she has knocked on doors, she has met with many diverse families and families of color who live in multiple generation households. 

“The times are different,” she said.

Rep. Joanne Ferrary

Rep. Joanne Ferrary represents HD 37 in Las Cruces, which encompasses a northeast corner of the city. She does not face a primary challenger. She expected to face a Republican opponent in the general election but the Secretary of State announced this week that the challenger did not qualify for the primary ballot.

Ferrary is in her eighth year serving in the House. She cosponsored the House bill to repeal the abortion ban in 2021. She said she has been working on women’s healthcare issues since she was first elected. She said she believes in “full healthcare for all people.”

Rep. Yanira Gurrola

Rep. Yanira Gurrola represents HD 16, on the west side of I-25 in Albuquerque. Gurrola said she is “really excited” about the EQNM endorsement and that as someone from Mexico, she “knows the feeling of always fighting discrimination.”

“How hard it is. You think you’re ready and you’ve seen everything and then it hits you,” she said.

Gurrola faces a primary challenger in Marsella Duarte and a general election challenger in Republican Leland Bohannon if she wins the primary. The Bernalillo County Commission appointed Gurrola in 2022 to replace Antonio “Moe” Maestas shortly after Maestas filled a vacant state senate seat.

Gurrola said that as an educator, she feels that it is important to help educate her community and said she believes her community cares “about the values I share” and that her community sees her commitment to those values.

Gurrola was a cosponsor on the bill that expanded the scope of the Human Rights Act, which added government bodies to the list of groups that cannot discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and redefined LGBTQ terms and definitions to update them. 

Gurrola said that when the bill came to the House floor for debate in 2022, she lacked confidence in speaking because she speaks with an accent but she did so because “when talking about human rights and values for our state, I want to be the first in line.”

“It’s important to continue educating our community in human rights and try to understand. I think we need to continue to value people and recognize what they have to bring to our community,” she said.

Rep. Nathan Small

Rep. Nathan Small represents HD 36 in the Las Cruces area, east and west of I-25 and north of state Highway 70. He has been in office since 2016.

Small does not face a primary challenger but will face Republican Kimberly Skaggs in the general election in November.

Small said he is “proud to have this endorsement” and spoke of the importance for people “to feel safe in their communities” and how feeling safe “shouldn’t depend on some specific version of yourself or who you love.”

Small said that as the House Finance and Appropriations Committee chair, his main focus is on the annual budget rather than specific legislation but he said he has spoken on the House floor “particularly when it comes to people feeling unwelcome.”

“It’s pretty shocking and saddening consequences when you don’t have welcoming policies,” he said.

Small said that when working on the budget, he wants to be “very aware” when allocating resources that might help the LGBTQ community.

“I think a fundamental sense of awareness gets to the core of who we are in New Mexico and that’s a very large part of what this endorsement means to me,” he said. 

The additional representatives EQNM endorsed are: Rep. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe, Liz Thomson of Albuquerque, Linda Serrato of Santa Fe and Kristina Ortez of Taos.

Senate

Sen. Carrie Hamblen

Sen. Carrie Hamblen represents SD 38, a southwest swath of the Las Cruces area that runs to the state line with Texas. Hamblen was elected in 2020.

She does not face a primary challenger but will face Republican Samantha Barncastle Salopek.

She said she has been “humbled to do work for the LGBTQ community.”

She said that when there are laws in other states that drive people to uproot their homes and families and livelihoods because those states criminalize them, LGBTQ issues are an important aspect of running an election.

“As long as I serve in the New Mexico legislature, I will make sure this is a safe space for everybody,” she said.

She said she believes this endorsement will help in her election because “representation and visibility matters.”

“For the last four years I’ve been in office I’ve seen young queer kids who acknowledge my pride progress pin and see somebody like them doing public service and I think that’s huge because when I was that age, I didn’t see anybody who looked like me,” she said.

Hamblen sponsored the modification of the Human Rights Act on the Senate side. The bill modified the Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ individuals by public bodies.   

“If elections go the way I hope they don’t [in November], I think it’s really important that people who get frustrated with national elections and don’t have a voice know that it’s local elections that matter. Congress is moving through mud to get things happening. But in New Mexico, our legislature continues to move forward and on track,” she said.

Additional state senators EQNM endorsed are: Sen. Liz Stefanics, of Los Cerrillos and Leo Jaramillo of Española.

*Marianna Anaya was previously deputy director of ProgressNow New Mexico, which helps NM Political Report find funding. ProgressNow New Mexico has no editorial control over NM Political Report’s content.

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