All Rights reserved
New Mexico's senate was poised to vote Friday on a bill to legalize same-sex partnerships in the state, and equality advocates expect a fight as the 2007 legislative session counted down to its final hours.
HB 603, the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, would create a registry in which two adults in a committed relationship could become domestic partners, gaining access to basic health care coverage and family leave as well as presumption of parentage, inheritance rights, and decision making in case of a partner's incapacity. It would apply to both same-sex and unmarried heterosexual partners.
The bill, carried by Democratic representative Mimi Stewart of Albuquerque, passed New Mexico's house in February by an unexpectedly strong 33-24 vote. It faces a tougher battle in the state senate, where it is among more than 300 bills to be acted upon before the legislative session ends Saturday.
"We strongly believe that all New Mexicans deserve full equality under the law," Equality New Mexico said in a statement on its Web site. "However, we believe that domestic-partner legislation has the best chance of passing this session. As the statewide LGBT advocacy organization, we are committed to obtaining the maximum rights and benefits for as many as possible, as soon as possible."
New Mexico is one of only four states that has not defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman, though efforts to make the marriage application gender-neutral have failed. A so-called defense of marriage bill was killed in the house this year. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)