A bill that will eliminate the requirement to give public notice when changing a name passed the House Judiciary Committee by 10 to 0 on Friday. Sponsored by House Rep. Christine Chandler, a Democrat from Albuquerque, HB 31 will, if enacted, eliminate from statute the requirement to place a public notice for 14 days in the local newspaper when a person seeks to change their name. The Legislature put the requirement into law decades ago and it was intended to prevent individuals from evading creditors. The law is now antiquated and it puts transgender individuals and survivors of domestic violence, assault and stalking in danger, advocates of the bill have said. Chandler said the bill removes the requirement that both parents be notified of a name change of a minor.
Equality New Mexico, a nonprofit that advocates for the state’s LGBTQ community, celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding this year. Marshall Martinez, executive director of EQNM, said the organization plans a kickoff party in Santa Fe during the Legislative session and will continue to celebrate throughout the year. While the year-long festivities will be joyful, EQNM got its start in 1993 in a very different climate. Martinez said EQNM formed in response to the HIV crisis, which was still roiling through the LGBTQ community. “People were dying in massive numbers,” he said.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other Democratic governors met virtually with President Joe Biden on Friday to discuss what Democratic-led states are doing to protect abortion rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending the federal constitutional right to abortion care. This means that some states hostile to abortion have already banned abortion through trigger laws while other states will soon follow. New Mexico, along with several others, are states where abortion remains safe and legal. But a patchwork of states where abortion patients can seek care is likely to create a public healthcare crisis, many on the front lines of abortion care have said.
Biden convened the virtual meeting on Friday with several Democratic-led state governors to discuss what each of those states have done to protect reproductive rights.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , girls experience persistent feelings of sadness and suicide at higher rates than boys and the trend is on an uptick. The report, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, shows that this problem has been on an upward trend since at least 2009. Kathleen Ethier, PhD and director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health led the survey and was the senior author on the mental health paper. She said through email to NM Political Report that “it’s not entirely clear why females are experiencing poorer mental health and suicidal thoughts and attempts.”
“However, previous research suggests that young women may be more adversely impacted by negative messages in social media and females experience more of certain types of violence like electronic bullying and sexual assault,” she said. In 2009, 26 percent of girls the CDC surveyed said they experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness over the previous year. But in 2019, the CDC found that 37 percent of girls said they did.
Expansions in the Violence Against Women Act, signed by President Joe Biden this spring, recognize the LGBTQ community for the first time. Initially enacted in 1994, VAWA improves responses to gender-based violence through federal dollars to various state and local programs and agencies, including the courts. Congress last reauthorized the legislation in 2013. This spring, Biden signed the 2022 reauthorization, which is expected to help with such issues as sex trafficking, missing and murdered Indigenous women and relatives, sexual assault and housing and it expands programming to include the LGBTQ community for the first time. Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, called the inclusion in VAWA funding “a big victory.”
“The first thing that is important to know is this is the first time LGBTQ folks specifically are included in VAWA.
Growing evidence indicates that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer adults experience worse cardiovascular health than their cisgender heterosexual peers according to the American Heart Association. For instance, transgender men are twice as likely to have a heart attack than cisgender men and four times as likely than cisgender women, according to the AHA. Transgender people are also more likely to experience blood clots when undergoing estrogen hormone therapy, the AHA reported. The scientific paper appeared in the AHA’s scientific journal Circulation last week. It described the multi-layered ways LGBTQ or questioning individuals have higher risk factors – primarily due to stress from discrimination – for cardiovascular disease when compared to their cisgender heterosexual peers.
An anti-discrimination bill to help protect the LGBTQ community in the state will be filed in January ahead of the state legislative session. State Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, is sponsoring the panic defense bill, which he introduced in the 2019 Legislature. That year, SB 159 passed two committees but Candelaria said he pulled the bill to wait for a friendlier time in the Legislature. He noted that after the Nov. 3 election, there will be six lawmakers, including Candelaria, who are openly members of the LGBTQ community.
New Mexico voters embraced candidates in the 2020 elections that have historically been underrepresented, including women, in elected office. The state saw a slew of “firsts” this year.
For the first time in the state’s history, New Mexico’s three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will be held by women of color. And both Yvette Herrell, who will represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District, and Deb Haaland, who won reelection to the state’s 1st Congressional District, are enrolled members of Indigenous nations. Haaland is a member of Laguna Pueblo, and Herrell is a member of the Cherokee Nation, making New Mexico the first state in the U.S. to have two Indigenous Representatives.
Teresa Leger Fernandez, who won New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, is Latina.
Terrelene Massey, Diné (Navajo) and the executive director of Southwest Women’s Law Center, said she’s really excited to see more representation from women, especially women of color and Native American women. “I think they’ll provide different perspectives on the different issues they’ll be working on,” Massey said.
With delays in reproductive health care already taking place, officials with American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico said it could get worse as the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues. Ellie Rushforth, a reproductive rights attorney for ACLU-NM, sent letters to elected officials Monday urging them to ensure reproductive health care will remain accessible during the public health emergency. The letters, to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, congressional officials and the mayors of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces, ask that they consider abortion care, all forms of birth control; STI screening, testing, and treatment; vaginal health and treatment; prenatal, delivery, and postnatal care as essential reproductive services that need to remain accessible. The letters outline immediate steps, including that reproductive health care clinics and outpatient abortion providers be considered, “essential business.”
Lujan Grisham announced a stay-at-home order Monday in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. As of Monday, March 23, the state has 83 test positive cases, with 18 new ones.
Eager for change, a new organization called the New Mexico Indigenous Women’s Resource Council symbolically tied a ribbon Saturday in Gallup to launch a group dedicated to advocacy and helping people who are marginalized within indigenous communities. The council’s board president, Sonlatsa Jim-Martin, Navajo-Modoc, said the group will focus on women and girls in indigenous communities who experience domestic violence, helping indigenous people who are LGBTQ, and working on causes such as missing and murdered indigenous women. Jim-Martin said the number of missing and murdered women and girls from indigenous communities is alarming. She said the problem is worse than the numbers officially reported. “We know we can say it’s happening every day,” Jim-Martin told NM Political Report.