Biden expands LGTBQIA+ rights in sweeping executive order

President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this month to expand equality for LGBTQIA+ individuals. The order is sweeping and involves several different federal agencies. It says that while the U.S. has advanced LGBTQIA+ rights in significant ways, much still needs to be done, particularly for transgender individuals and LGBTQIA+ individuals of color. Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, said this is the “first time a sitting president has made such clear statements about queer and trans people.”

“It’s definitely a refreshing break from what we’ve been hearing and seeing so much of,” Martinez said. There has been an uptick of anti-trans bills introduced into state legislatures in recent years, according to LGTBQIA+ advocates.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, creating public health emergency

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade Friday morning, creating what individuals working on the front lines of reproductive access in New Mexico called a “public health emergency” during a press conference Friday afternoon. Farinaz Khan, a healthcare provider, said every abortion clinic in four states closed by Friday morning. “As women and people with uteruses, we are second class citizens in our own country. Our patients will be deeply harmed by this decision,” she said. Many during the press conference stressed that abortion is, and will remain, legal and safe in New Mexico.

A New Mexico Indigenous group has been addressing menstrual product shortage long before it became a national issue

Although the media began focusing on the menstrual product shortage in recent weeks, grassroots organization Indigenous Women Rising have been focused on the shortage since at least the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rachel Lorenzo, Mescalero Apache/Laguna Pueblo/Xicana and co-founder of IWR, said that when Tribal governments began giving out COVID care packages at the start of the pandemic, IWR assessed the gaps and noticed items missing that affected menstruating individuals and babies. Lorenzo, who uses they/them pronouns, said IWR began supplying, free of charge, menstrual cups, discs and period panties to Indigenous menstruating people in the U.S. and Canada. “IWR started piloting a program to send reusable menstrual products to Indigenous people who are interested and [for whom] it might be out of reach financially and geographically,” they said. Lorenzo said this is not a “catchall” solution and the price problem remains persistent.

NM Game and Fish urges people to be ‘bear aware’ during drought

Drought doesn’t only impact the availability of food and water for people and, as dry conditions continue to grip the state even amid the start of monsoon season, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish has urged residents to be “bear aware.”

Bear-human encounters tend to increase in drought times as wildlife moves into suburbs or even cities in search of resources. 

In a press release issued earlier this month, Rick Winslow, a bear and cougar biologist with New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, said that droughts have historically led to more conflicts with bears “not only at camping and picnic sites, but also in more populated areas.”

Nick Forman is the carnivore and small mammal program manager for the department. He spoke with NM Political Report via phone about this topic. Bears, he said, are omnivorous and rely on food sources like acorns, currant berries and juniper berries. Last fall, he said, the state had decent production of these food sources and, currently, the juniper bushes have berries on them and wildflowers can also provide bears with food. “There’s definitely available food out there,” he said.

Majority of voters support NM’s law protecting abortion access

A poll commissioned by NM Political Report found that a majority of voters support abortion rights, including a law protecting abortion rights recently passed by the state legislature, and also are poised to approve dipping into the state’s massive land grant permanent fund for education funding. Abortion rights could be at the forefront of midterm elections as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to gut the landmark Roe v. Wade decision this summer. When asked in the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling if abortion should be always legal; legal with some limitations; illegal except for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life; or always illegal, a majority said it should be legal (with 30 percent saying always, 25 percent saying legal with limitations). Just 13 percent said it should always be illegal and 29 percent said it should be illegal except in the cases or rape, incest or to save the mother’s life. When asked about the new state law that would allow abortion to remain legal in New Mexico regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides, 53 percent said they supported the recently enacted law and 36 percent said they opposed it.