A proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation was approved by the New Mexico house of representatives on Monday, and supporters say they are hopeful the measure will be enacted this year. It was the first time the house passed the measure despite more than a decade of debate over whether New Mexico should extend antidiscrimination protections to gays and lesbians.
"It's 2003--we shouldn't be discriminating against anyone, anywhere, anytime," said Rep. Gail Beam (D-Albuquerque), who sponsored the bill.
The legislation will broaden the state's Human Rights Act to cover sexual orientation, making it illegal to discriminate on that basis in matters of employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and union membership. It will apply equally to heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals. The bill passed the house 39-27 and now goes to the senate. Linda Siegle, of the Coalition for Equality in New Mexico, said she is confident the senate will approve the measure. Gov. Bill Richardson has pledged to sign the bill into law. In 2001 the bill was rejected by the house 35-31.