New Mexico has seen many significant advances in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights over the years. While the most progress has been made over the last decade, the start of improvement regarding LGBT rights in New Mexico can be traced back to 1975, when the state repealed its law against sodomy. These types of laws were generally seen as a way to make homosexuality illegal, and New Mexico was one of the earlier states to remove the sodomy law from its books. In 1985, then-governor Toney Anaya issued an executive order that banned the discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation in public employment.
The human rights act
The next milestones in the state’s LGBT rights history would occur in 2003, when New Mexico passed “An Act Relating to Human Rights,” which protected individuals against discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation when it comes to housing, credit, employment, union membership and public accommodation. This was also the year that sex-same partners of state employees began to receive the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.
In June of 2012, the highest court in the state recognized the parental rights of same-sex partners. In this case, a lesbian couple had separated, and one of the partners who had helped raise her partner’s child but was unable to adopt the child was seeking parental rights, which the court granted her. New Mexico also allows single people to adopt and has no ban on adoption by same-sex couples or adoptions by second parents. Lesbian couples are also given access to donor insemination and IVF without any regard to their martial status or sexual orientation.
The same year the parental rights of same-sex partners were recognized by the court, the Court of Appeals also upheld a claim against a photography studio in the state that had refused to take photos of a same-sex couple’s ceremony back in 2006. The New Mexico Supreme Court also upheld that decision in 2013, ruling that the enforcement of the anti-discrimination part of the state’s human rights act didn’t violate the photographer’s right to free speech.
The right to marry
As reported in the Albuquerque Journal, in late 2013, New Mexico became the 17th state in the US to recognize same-sex marriages. That year, the state Supreme Court ruled that New Mexico’s constitution protected the rights of people to marry regardless of their sexual orientation. This state also allows LGBT divorce, which is still an issue in other states that either don’t have provisions for same-sex divorce or don’t allow same-sex marriage. In 2012, a judge granted a divorce to a same-sex couple.
While LGBT rights in New Mexico have certainly evolved over the years, there’s still more work to be done in the state, particularly when it comes to the rights of transgender people.