Like many people, I have watched with growing alarm as state legislatures in places like Texas, Florida, and Nebraska pass laws rolling back hard-fought freedoms and rights for the LGBTQ+ community. As a New Mexico lawmaker, I knew my colleagues and I had a responsibility to prevent the same thing from happening here.
Over the last several months, we have heard from constituents, community members, and advocates worried that they or someone they love might suddenly lose access to life-saving healthcare or the ability to freely and safely live as their authentic selves. During the recent legislative session, we took these concerns to the Roundhouse and successfully enacted historic protections for our LGBTQ+ community.
So as we celebrate LGBTQ+ pride month, there is much we can be proud of as New Mexicans. In fact, our state was recently lauded as one of the safest places for LGBTQ+ people in the country by LGBTQ Nation.
One important victory from this year’s session, which I was proud to sponsor, was repealing an unnecessary requirement that people seeking name changes publish a notification in the newspaper. Not only was this practice antiquated, it endangered the safety and privacy of people who change their names to align with their gender identity or because they are survivors of stalking or domestic violence.
We also expanded the New Mexico Human Rights Act to better protect our LGBTQ+ communities with modern definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity. This legislation also closed an unintended loophole and now prevents organizations or entities that receive taxpayer funds from discriminating against individuals protected under the Human Rights Act.
Finally, we took critical steps to protect access to gender-affirming care and reproductive healthcare across our state. Gender-affirming care is age-appropriate and evidenced-based, providing mental and medical health care and social services that help transgender and non-binary people live safe, happy lives.
We know that gender-affirming care is not only medically necessary and safe, it prevents suicide – it saves lives. Yet still, some extremist politicians are spreading misinformation and engaging in politically motivated attempts to restrict access to this care and punish providers in their communities – even right here in New Mexico.
The laws we passed this session mean that New Mexicans can access and provide gender-affirming care – without fear of discrimination or persecution – in every corner of our state. These laws also mean that folks from states like Texas, where the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people are under attack, can find a safe haven here.
Still, there is more work to be done. We must continue to fight back against the misinformation fueling the discrimination that threatens the health and safety of our LGBTQ+ community. We also have to make sure that our LGBTQ+ organizations and service providers have the resources they need to serve all those seeking care in our state – because lives depend on it.
As your State Representative, I’m committed to standing strong in our New Mexican values of respecting our neighbors and celebrating our diversity so that our state can be proud of how we treat all of our neighbors, not just during Pride month, but all year long.