As neighboring states target trans rights, NM proposal would expand Human Rights Act - Albuquerque Journal

As neighboring states target trans rights, NM proposal would expand Human Rights Act

A dusting of snow fell around the Roundhouse as the 2023 session got underway. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Legislation introduced Thursday at the Capitol aims to expand legal protections for transgender students and others in New Mexico — setting the stage for a legislative debate this year over LGBTQ rights.

The proposal, House Bill 207, would prohibit school districts, government agencies and public contractors from discriminating on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, among other categories, when providing services.

The measure comes as lawmakers in neighboring Texas, Arizona and a host of other states propose bills to restrict, not expand, transgender rights. The American Civil Liberties Union contends more than 200 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed throughout the United States.

Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, an advocacy group, said the legislation introduced Thursday is vital in a climate of increased hostility toward LGBTQ individuals.

“As somebody who was born and raised here,” he told the Journal, “I think now is the most critical time to say to people here and across the country that hatred and bigotry have never been our values.”

The New Mexico legislation, he said, would close a loophole in state law that permits discrimination by public agencies in some circumstances.

The state protections, Martinez said, go beyond what’s in federal law.

The legislation would add gender to the list of protected classes in the state Human Rights Act, in addition to revising some definitions.

The heart of the bill is a section declaring it illegal for government agencies and groups that receive public funds to limit or put conditions on the provision of services to people in certain protected classes.

Discrimination, for example, would be prohibited based on race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability.

The sponsors of the legislation include Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth of Santa Fe, Sen. Carrie Hamblen of Las Cruces, Rep. Andrea Romero of Santa Fe and Rep. Kristina Ortez of Taos, all Democrats.

“This is a discussion that’s happening across the country and needs to happen here to make sure there’s a level playing field and respect for everyone,” Wirth said Thursday.

The introduction of the Human Rights Act legislation in New Mexico sets the Roundhouse up for a much different debate than in nearby states.

In Texas, for example, legislation has been filed that would add gender-affirming health care for minors to the definition of abuse. A year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed a state agency to investigate reports of gender-affirming care for kids as abuse.

In Arizona, legislation would prohibit drag shows on public property or any location where they could be viewed by a minor.

A proposal in New Mexico two years ago called for restricting trans participation in school sports, but it didn’t advance out of its first committee.

Home » ABQnews Seeker » As neighboring states target trans rights, NM proposal would expand Human Rights Act

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Photos: Carlsbad beats Cleveland, 13-3, during the first round ...
ABQnews Seeker
After Denver school shooting, an outcry erupts over security
ABQnews Seeker
DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students ... DENVER (AP) -- Outraged Denver students and parents demanded better school security and pushed for tighter firearm controls Thursday, a day after a 17-year-old ...
Albuquerque police: Fatal shooting at convenience store could be ...
ABQnews Seeker
A suspect has been detained after ... A suspect has been detained after one person was shot to death and another injured in an overnight shooting in Northwest Albuquerque.
'Better Call Saul' final season hits Netflix on April ...
ABQnews Seeker
April 18, 2023. This is the ... April 18, 2023. This is the day the sixth and final season of 'Better Call Saul' will hit Netflix. The final season will hit ...
$14.3M grant could make Acoma Pueblo’s internet problems ‘a ...
ABQnews Seeker
The federal government on Thursday announced ... The federal government on Thursday announced the tribe has been awarded $14.3 million for a broadband project.
Amid climate change and wildfire recovery, New Mexico enacts ...
ABQnews Seeker
Senate Bill 9 establishes new legacy ... Senate Bill 9 establishes new legacy and permanent funds that supporters say will provide a sustainable stream of cash for projects ranging from watershed ...
NM-filmed 'Chupa' premieres on Netflix on April 7
ABQnews Seeker
Production on 'Chupa' began in Aug. ... Production on 'Chupa' began in Aug. 2021 in New Mexico. Crews filmed for months on location around the state — including Estancia, Zia Pueblo, ...
Cirque Italia brings its maritime-themed show to Albuquerque
ABQnews Seeker
Cirque Italia's latest adventure is called ... Cirque Italia's latest adventure is called "Water Circus" and will start a two week stand in Albuquerque beginning Thursday, March 30, at Cottonwood Mall.
Where did all those Chihuahuas come from? Test your ...
ABQnews Seeker
Take the Journal's weekly news quiz ... Take the Journal's weekly news quiz below for a chance at the warm, fuzzy feeling that only comes from knowing you're well-informed on your ...