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State Sen. Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces was one of four New Mexico legislators who introduced the Human Rights Act Modernization bill (House Bill 207) Jan. 26, as the 60-day legislative session continued in Santa Fe.
If passed and signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the legislation “will be the most proactive and protective bill for LGBTQ people in the country,” Equality New Mexico (ENM) said in a news release.
“The Human Rights Act was enacted in 1969 to ensure that all New Mexicans are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodation,” the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions said on its website.
In 2003, New Mexico became the 17th state to add sexual orientation and the third state to add gender identity to such an act, said ENM, a statewide education and advocacy organization working for “cross-sector movement building to increase equity, full access, and sustainable wellness for LGBTQ New Mexicans,” according to https://eqnm.org/. Based in Albuquerque, ENM was founded May 2, 1993.
HB207 “will update and expand those definitions to better protect even more LGBTQ New Mexicans,” ENM said. “The Human Rights Act has a loophole that allows taxpayer-funded discrimination. (HB207) will close that loophole, prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ New Mexicans in public schools, universities and state and local governments.”
“As a leader in the LGBTQ community, it is my obligation to push forward legislation that fills these gaps
in coverage,” said Hamblen, a Democrat who represents state Senate District 38, located entirely within Doña Ana County. “We want to be certain that in all 33 counties of New Mexico, LGBTQ people are guaranteed fair and equal treatment; whether they are seeking public services, working to get an education, or simply trying to participate in activities in local community centers, they should know their sexual orientation or gender identity won’t be used to deny them,” Hamblen said.
HB207 co-sponsors are state Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, who is majority floor leader in the state Senate, and state Reps. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, and Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe.
HB207 will add public contractors and public entities to the discrimination prohibitions, which “have been legally allowed to discriminate against queer and trans New Mexicans,” ENM said. “This bill has specific implications for LGBTQ New Mexicans because a lack of protections in federal law leaves us specifically vulnerable.”
To track the bill during the session, visit nmlegis.gov, click on legislation and enter “2023 Regular” under session, “House” under chamber, “Bill” under type and “207” under number.