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.
Gov. Susana Martinez will no longer give a scheduled speech to the North Carolina Republican Party. Martinez was scheduled to speak at the party’s state convention but canceled; according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, a spokesman for the governor cited a scheduling conflict. Originally, the party scheduled Martinez to speak at the convention next month. Martinez is the head of the Republican Governors Association and frequently makes out-of-state trips. Recently, Martinez was the guest of honor at the New York Republican Party gala.
The city of Santa Fe banned most official travel to Mississippi and North Carolina in the wake of the passage of laws targeting LGBT residents. Mayor Javier Gonzales linked to a story about Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signing a law that allows many to reject services for same-sex couples on religious grounds. “Santa Fe will continue the policy of banning all non-essential travel to States that pass hateful legislation that promotes discrimination,” Gonzales wrote. Gonzales is the first openly gay mayor of Santa Fe. The Santa Fe New Mexican first reported on the news.
After an hour of passionate public comment on transgender rights, a Wednesday Albuquerque Public School Board of Education meeting ended with the district’s superintendent requesting further work. A majority of public comment was regarding whether transgender students’ rights should be protected under a federal law that also protects students rights based on gender. The Department of Education said in 2014 the law, known as Title IX, included protections on the basis of gender identity. Board member Peggy Muller-Aragón who was the only member who spoke against the measure, said she had received hundreds of emails in opposition. “The loudest side is not always the right side,” she said of the large number of people who spoke in favor of the measure.
Rick Little found himself at the center of attention following his committee’s passage of a law that would add police officers to the list of protected classes in the state’s Hate Crimes Act. Instead of discussing the high profile bill in an election year, focus was on the Chaparral Republican’s comments at the end questioning whether some of the protected classes under the Hate Crimes Act, such as gender identity or sexual orientation, are lifestyle choices. KRQE-TV tried to pin down Little on whether or not he thinks sexual orientation is a choice. Little would not immediately answer and his handlers tried to pull him way, but reporter Alex Goldsmith pressed on, saying it was a yes or no answer. Little appeared flustered.
Algernon D’Ammassa is a writer, theatre artist, and founder of the Deming Zen Center. The second session of New Mexico’s 52nd legislature will begin on January 19, and our elected rascals have quite a bit of work to do. New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate in the nation last month: 6.8 percent. Household incomes are among the lowest while our numbers on poverty and child hunger are among the highest. Violent crime is also high, hardly surprising considering these other statistics.
The Pentagon is considering ending a ban on transgender people from serving in the armed forces. The White House has pushed for an end to the ban, the latest in a move to open the military to more who wish to serve. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that ended Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy that forbid openly gay members of the military. New Mexico Political Report spoke to Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico (TGRCNM) executive director and co-founder Adrien Lawyer earlier this year about issues in the transgender community. New Mexico Political Report again reached out to Lawyer, this time about the Pentagon push for acceptance of transgender members.
One summer nearly 40 years ago, a group of roughly 25 people gathered on Central Avenue to march for gay rights in Albuquerque. It was the summer of 1976, seven years after the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village that launched Gay Pride marches in cities throughout the United States. That year, Juniper, a local gay rights advocacy group, and Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Community Church put together the city’s first Pride March. That event stayed relatively informal. “There was little notice,” PJ Sedillo, a special education professor at New Mexico Highlands University who led Albuquerque Pride through the 1990s and 2000s, said.