New Mexico’s U.S. senators say that U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos does not support civil rights or oppose discrimination. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, both Democrats, signed onto a letter to the secretary telling her “your actions belie your assurances” on these issues. The letter cited her ties to a prominent anti-LGBTQ group and her appointment of staff who oppose a 2011 Title IX Guidance on sexual assault.[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]No ads. Just news. Support local, non-profit news.
Ahead of a candlelight vigil at Morningside Park Thursday evening before this week’s Albuquerque Pride, marchers for transgender rights rallied in the park. The pro-transgender rights march has been a part of the candlelight vigil for the better part of a decade. Albuquerque Pride itself has been around for 41 years now. Featured: Longtime organizer looks back at four decades of ABQ Pride
“It reminds me that I’m very lucky,” Janice Devereaux, who came out as a transgender woman 15 years ago, said in an interview. “As tough as life can be for trans people at times, I’m still lucky to be here, and that is very important for me to hold on to.”
The candlelight vigil is held every year to honor LGBT victims of hate crimes.
Graffiti of a slur against the LGBT community on a private gay-friendly club in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill prompted police response and outrage from advocates. The graffiti, which said “F— You Fa–,” was scrawled on the walls of the Albuquerque Social Club Monday. Police were called to look into the incident. Albuquerque Police Department officer Fred Duran told NM Political Report the incident sparked additional officer patrols in the area Monday night. He added that police have not found the culprit who wrote the graffiti, which has since been washed off.
After the 2017 general legislative session adjourned, Gov. Susana Martinez vowed to veto any tax increases and to call legislators back to the Roundhouse for a special session soon to redo the budget. Democrats said their package would avoid any further cuts to education, which has seen several slashes in recent years because of declining revenue to the state. The governor’s office says a state government shutdown could happen as early as next month. This story also appears in this week’s edition of the Alibi. In a post-session press conference, Martinez blamed lawmakers, saying some “failed to do their jobs this session.” Her tone capped a tense few days between her office and the Legislature.
After a contentious, hours-long debate, the state House of Representatives voted by a wide margin for a bill to ban conversion therapy for minors — the widely discredited practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation. The measure cleared the House late Wednesday on a 44-23 vote. Nine Republicans joined 35 Democrats in backing it. Only one Democrat, Rep. Patricio Ruiloba of Albuquerque, sided with a bloc of mostly rural Republicans who opposed the initiative. That group of Republicans dragged debate on the measure deep into the night, raising concerns that it would trample freedom of religion and suggesting that homosexuality is a choice or even a mental illness.
With little debate Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that would make it easier for transgender people to change the gender listed on on their birth certificate. Under Senate Bill 120, transgender people wishing to change their birth certificate no longer have to submit a physician-signed statement that they have undergone a sex-change operation. Instead, the only required document would be a form signed signed under penalty of perjury by a licensed medical or mental health-care provider saying that, based on the provider’s opinion and in accordance with contemporary professional standards, the individual’s sex designation should be changed. The bill sponsor, Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, told the Senate that the provider’s statement would have to confirm that the applicant had undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. Then, he said, a court would decide whether the birth certificate’s marker should be changed.
In a bipartisan decision Friday, a Senate committee voted 5-0 in favor of a bill that would outlaw the use of conversion therapy to treat homosexual, bisexual or transgender minors. The vote by the Senate Public Affairs Committee for Senate Bill 121 came after emotional testimony from audience members, some of whom had undergone conversion therapy. Kei Cypher, a student at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, said she was raised in a religious family in Colorado Springs, Colo., that was confused when she came out at age 13. “They told me it was something I got from MTV or video games,” she told the committee. “They took me to a therapist who told me it was a perversion and that I should snap my wrist with a rubber band or hold ice in my hands every time I had such thoughts.”
Randy Royster said when his daughter Amber started questioning her sexuality as a teen, he sent her to a therapist recommended by his pastor. The therapist used “conversion therapy,” a treatment designed to change a person’s sexual orientation. Royster said the therapy caused great harm to his daughter and guilt and shame for him. “No loving parent would purposefully do something that would hurt their children,” he said. “Had I known then what I know now, I would have turned to a therapist who understands that trying to change a young person’s sexual orientation through therapy is a long-discredited practice that often causes long-term mental and physical harm.”
A New Mexico legislator is getting on board with an effort to force manufacturers of electronics that connect to the internet to install filtering devices that would block online “obscenity.”
State Rep. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, told NM Political Report he plans to sponsor a bill that would do so in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January. The bill, called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, is backed by a group attempting to introduce identical bills in the legislatures of at least 23 other states this coming year. Nine state legislators and 11 lobbyists are listed as members of the national group, which bears the same name as the legislation, according to the group’s website. Gallegos said his previous attempts at curbing human trafficking got him interested in sponsoring this bill. But a look at an unfiled draft of Gallegos’ legislation shows that it goes much farther than just dealing with human trafficking.
Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community gathered in a park in a Southeast area of Albuquerque Sunday evening in solidarity with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Hundreds of people gathered while local politicians and advocates spoke out against violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community. University of New Mexico LGBTQ Resource Center Director Alma Rosa Silva-Bañuelos opened the somber and tearful event by addressing the Orlando shooting. Related: Photos: Albuquerque gathers for vigil for victims of Orlando
“We lost our family this morning and that’s why we’re gathering here today,” Rosa Silva-Bañuelos said. “If you’re sad it’s okay because it shouldn’t be happening in 2016.”
Rosa Silva-Bañuelos repeated a common sentiment that these bars and clubs are often a place of comfort for a community that may not have another place to go.