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New Mexico high court rules for marriage equality

Decision makes state the 17th with same-sex marriage on the books

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New Mexico Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade, gay news
New Mexico Supreme Court, gay news, Washington Blade, gay news

The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor marriage equality. (Photo public domain)

Capping off a year of historic victories, the New Mexico high court handed down a unanimous ruling on Thursday granting same-sex couples the ability to wed in the state.

The 5-0 decision is written by Justice Edward Chavez, who concludes the current statutory scheme of the marriage law violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18, of the state constitution.

“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law,” the ruling states.

The ruling, which takes effect immediately, makes New Mexico the 17th state with marriage equality on the books. It also retroactively affirms the same-sex marriages for couples who already wed after obtaining marriage licenses from county clerks in the state.

The parties in the lawsuit, Griego v. Oliver, were six same-sex couples as well as all 33 of the state’s county clerks, who sought clarification on whether the state law enabled them to deliver marriage licenses to gay couples. Representing the same-sex couples were the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the national ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the law firm of Sutin, Thayer & Browne APC as well as New Mexico attorneys Maureen Sanders, N. Lynn Perls and J. Kate Girard.

Laura Schauer Ives, legal director for ACLU-New Mexico, said the decision represents a “historic and joyful day for New Mexico.”

“As a state, we have always strived to treat all families with dignity and respect, and today’s decision allowing loving, committed same sex couples to marry continues that tradition,” Schauer Ives said. “The more than 1,000 same-sex couples who have already married in New Mexico can now rest certain knowing their marriages will be recognized and respected by our state.”

Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal, commended her colleagues in the LGBT advocacy community for leading the way to a favorable decision on marriage equality in New Mexico.

“This beautiful unanimous decision explicitly underscores the argument we and our sister organizations have long made: denying same-sex couples the ability to marry imposes significant emotional and dignitary harm and is discrimination, pure and simple,” Taylor said.

New Mexico Gov. Suzanne Martinez, who opposes same-sex marriage but didn’t actively defend the marriage law, said in a statement she’ll abide by decision, but wish it were settled differently.

“My personal views on this issue are well-known, and I’m confident that most New Mexicans believe, like I do, that it should have been settled by a vote of the people,” Martinez said. “Instead, the Supreme Court stepped in and rendered their decision. While there will surely be intense debate about this decision moving forward, I encourage New Mexicans to continue to respect one another in their discourse, as this is an important issue for many New Mexicans on both sides.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said immediate after the ruling he had no “official reaction,” but offered some thoughts.

“I would say that we welcome that ruling, and this is another example of the extraordinary progress that’s been made when it comes to equal rights for LGBT Americans in this country,” Carney said.

Justices make use of the June decision from the U.S. Supreme Court against Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, noting the decision leaves marriage equality as the only option for same-sex couples to receive the federal benefits and for the state to avoid a federal challenge to its state law.

“Interpreting our statutes to authorize committed same-gender couples to enter into civil marriage will grant them the rights and privileges available to opposite-gender married couples in approximately one thousand statutes and federal regulations that refer to a person’s marital status, thereby avoiding a constitutional challenge on that basis,” the decision states.

The decision is the culmination of a drawn-out process over the course of 2013. It started in March with Santa Fe Mayor David Coss introducing a resolution, later approved the city council, saying marriage equality was already legal in New Mexico because of the gender-neutral construction of some portions of state law. That’s the conclusion Judge Alan Malott reached in a decision earlier this year extending marriage equality to Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

Notably, the court rejects in its decision the notion that marriage is already legal under the current state statutory scheme, observing that the legislature has passed laws, such as one changing the marriage application forms in 1961, defining marriage in opposite-sex terms.

“Thus, we conclude that a mix of gender-neutral and gender-specific terminology in the domestic relations statutes does not mean that the Legislature intended to authorize marriage between same-gender couples,” the decision states. “On the contrary, we conclude that the statutory scheme reflects a legislative intent to prohibit same-gender marriages.”

LGBT groups followed up with the Santa Fe resolution by filing a lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples seeking to wed in New Mexico. Attorney General Gary King issued an opinion saying he wouldn’t defend the marriage law against a legal challenge in court on the basis that the law was unconstitutional.

Prior to the ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court, a total of eight county clerks were already distributing marriage licenses to same-sex couples either through court order as a result of the litigation or on their own volition based on their interpretation of state law. An estimated 58.5 percent of New Mexico’s population had access to marriage equality prior to the Supreme Court ruling.

Attorney General King and plaintiffs in the case were pushing the idea that gays and lesbians are a suspect class and laws related to sexual orientation should be subject to heightened scrutiny — a idea with which New Mexico Supreme Court concurs because of the history of persecution faced by the LGBT community.

“Therefore, we conclude that intermediate scrutiny must be applied in this case because the LGBT community is a discrete group that has been subjected to a history of purposeful discrimination, and it has not had sufficient political strength to protect itself from such discrimination,” the ruling states.

It’s possible the opponents of the decision could place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2014 that would rescind the decision, but only by legislative referral, not by initiative petition. It’s unclear at this time what the legislature will do. Democrats hold strong majorities in both chambers of the New Mexico legislature.

Brian Brown, president of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, promised in a statement to pursue action to protect people in New Mexico who don’t support same-sex marriage.

“Once again, activists judges have thrown out the historic legal understanding of marriage in New Mexico,” Brown said. “This is a continuation of a very dangerous rush towards silencing people of faith who simply believe marriage to be the union of one man and one woman. The National Organization for Marriage will do everything in its power to protect believers of true marriage in New Mexico and around the nation from the fallout of radical judges who deny the truth of marriage.”

Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry, said his organization is prepared to fight to make sure the New Mexico decision stays in place.

“We have a campaign that we played a lead role in setting up and are on the board of, New Mexico Unites for Marriage, to protect the decision and defeat any efforts to amend the constitution,” Solomon said. “We’ve hired a campaign manager and there’s a field and media team on the ground, lobbyists, and more. It’s cochaired by former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.”

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1 Comment

  1. Peter Rosenstein

    December 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Equality sometimes takes time but I am optimistic that we will soon see marriage-equality across the nation. The time for full equalty for the LGBT community has arrived. The bigots in the country will not be able to stop it for much longer.

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National

Rachel Levine on becoming four-star admiral: ‘It comes from my desire to serve’

Trans official sworn-in to U.S. Public Health Service

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For Rachel Levine, the appointment to her new role as a four-star admiral complementing her existing duties as assistant secretary for health is another way for the first openly transgender Senate-confirmed presidential appointee to serve.

“I think that this just really comes from my desire to serve in all capacities,” Levine said in an interview Tuesday with the Washington Blade. “To serve the first day in my field of academic medicine and pediatrics, but then in Pennsylvania and now in the federal government, and it furthers my ability to do that.”

Levine, 63, also recognized the importance of the appointment as a transgender person within the U.S. Public Health Service, for which she was ceremonially sworn in on Tuesday

“I think for the LGBTQ+ community, it is a further sign of progress and our president’s commitment to equity, to inclusion and diversity,” Levine said. “So I think that it is a very important milestone, and I’m pleased to serve.”

As part of her duties, Levine will lead an estimated 6,000 public health service officers serving vulnerable populations, including deployments inside and outside the country for communities beleaguered with the coronavirus, according to the Department of Health & Human Services. The role involves working closely with U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, whom Levine called her “friend and colleague.”

The U.S. Public Health Service, Levine said, has deployed “many, many times,” including its greatest number ever of deployments to vulnerable populations during the coronavirus pandemic. Among the places the service has deployed, Levine said, was in her home state of Pennsylvania, where she recently served as secretary of health.

Not only is Levine the first openly transgender person to serve in the uniformed health service as a four-star general, but she’s also the first woman to serve in that capacity.

“We have 6,000 dedicated committed public servants really all focused on our nation’s health, and they serve in details to the CDC and the FDA and the NIH, but also clinically with the Indian Health Service, and the federal prison system,” Levine said. “They’re also detailed and deployed throughout the country, and they deployed like never before for COVID-19 as well as the border, as well as dealing with floods and hurricanes and tornadoes.”

Although the Public Health Service is primarily focused on addressing public health disasters within the United States, Levine said it has a record of deployments overseas, including years ago when it was deployed to Africa under the threat of Ebola.

Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra had high praise for Levine in a statement upon news of taking on a leadership position in the service.

“This is a proud moment for us at HHS,” Becerra said. “Adm. Levine — a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency’s agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health — is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America.”

Levine, however, was careful to draw a distinction between her appointment within the Public Health Service and being a service member within the U.S. armed forces.

“It is not a military branch, it’s not the armed forces: It’s a uniformed force, so it’s different,” Levine said. “For example, the Army, the Navy, our military, there are two other uniformed branches, and that is ours, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and NOAA.”

The new role, Levine said, would complement her duties as assistant secretary for health. Although not only secretaries of health have been commissioned to take the uniform, Levine said she wanted to undertake that as part of her role in the Biden administration.

The two appointments were not simultaneous, Levine said, because of a general process she undertook, which was completed just this week.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Levine. During her Senate confirmation process, when she was hounded by anti-transgender attacks in conservative media and rude, invasive questioning by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on her gender identity.

Levine, however, said she hasn’t encountered any hostility regarding her new role (as of now) and shrugged off any potential attacks in the future and said the move is about her career “to serve and to help people.”

“I’ve continued that for our nation as the assistant secretary for health and this is just a further demonstration of my commitment to service,” Levine said. “I don’t know what others will say, but that’s the genesis of my wanting to serve in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and to place on the uniform.”

Levine’s new appointment comes shortly after a group of Democratic senators led by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) sent her a letter dated Sept. 30 calling on her and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, to issue new guidance for hospital or residential care on mental health needs of transgender people.

Asked about the letter, Levine said mental health issues are under the authority of Delphin-Rittmon and the two “will work together and we will respond.”

Specifically, the senators in the letter call on the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council, or BHCC, and experts in the field of adolescent trans care to offer guidance on best practices for inpatient mental health care among these youth.

Asked what the response will look like, Levine said, “We’re going to work on that.”

“We will be looking at what they’re asking for and the requirements, and we’ll talk with them and the stakeholders and we’ll look to issue appropriate guidance,” Levine said.

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Biden endorses Roem for re-election

Former journalist is first out trans person in any state legislature

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Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) speaks to supporters following her re-election on Nov. 5, 2019. President Biden has endorsed her for re-election. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

President Biden on Tuesday endorsed Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) for re-election.

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) is among the other Democratic members of the Virginia House of Delegates who Biden backed. Biden in his tweet also stressed his support of Terry McAuliffe, who is running against Republican Glenn Youngkin to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Building back better starts in the states,” tweeted Biden. “Since flipping the legislature in 2019, Virginia Democrats have been a model of progress—including helping us vaccinate folks to beat the pandemic. To keep our progress, we must elect Terry McAuliffe and Democrats up and down the ballot.”

Roem, a former journalist, in 2018 became the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S.

Biden called Roem on the night she defeated then-state Del. Bob Marshall and congratulated her. A Washington Post picture that showed Roem crying moments later went viral.

The Manassas Democrat who represents the 13th District in 2019 easily won re-election. Christopher Stone, the Republican who is running against Roem in this cycle, opposes marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

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Cómo las empresas impulsan la inclusión e inserción laboral LGBTQ

Uno de cada 20 jóvenes de la comunidad tiene su negocio propio

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Walmart, gay news, Washington Blade
(Foto cortesia de Flickr)

Reportar sin Miedo es el socio mediático del Washington Blade en Honduras. Esta nota salió en su sitio web el 15 de octubre.

CIUDAD DE GUATEMALA — Apenas el 5 por ciento de los jóvenes LGBTIQ+, es decir uno de cada 20, tiene negocio propio. Esa es una de las cifras reveladas en el webinar “Empresas y derechos humanos: perspectiva LGBT”, que se desarrolló durante la IV Semana de Empresas y Derechos Humanos.

El taller se llevó a cabo con apoyo de la organización diversa Visibles, la embajada del Reino Unido en Guatemala, Walmart México y Caricam. En la actividad se abordaron los retos que las empresas afrontan de cara a la inclusión.

El tema se remonta a 10 o 20 años, en los que han surgido empresas con un enfoque de recursos humanos y políticas de no discriminación que incluyen orientación sexual e identidad de género.

Estas organizaciones ofrecen prestaciones y licencia de paternidad, además igualan el tiempo que se da a padres del mismo sexo, ofrecen seguros médicos que incluyen necesidades de personas transgénero y redes LGBTIQ+.

Por otra parte, empiezan a llevar a cabo eventos por el mes del orgullo LGBTIQ+.

Una campaña multinacional

La Human Rights Campaign se ha lanzado en Brasil, Argentina, México, Chile y Estados Unidos, país donde nació. En el caso de las iniciativas multiactor, algunas de estas empresas están empezando a abrirse a otras empresas y tratan de ofrecer algún tipo de apoyo.

Muchas compañías ven el acrónimo LGBT como si se tratase de un grupo homogéneo.
Es decir, ven a las poblaciones diversas sin distinguir entre personas gays, lesbianas, transexuales, transgénero e intersexuales, no separan la orientación sexual de la identidad de género.

Estas empresas tampoco distinguen las experiencias de las personas dentro del acrónimo y hacen una sola campaña, como si se tratara de todas las personas por igual.

Esto es muy importante porque estamos en una semana de empresa y derechos humanos. Se trata del punto de entrada en la discusión, no el punto de entrada de riesgo.

“Esta investigación aborda la violencia para la población joven, de 18 a 23 años”, explicó el Investigador de la Asociación Visibles de Guatemala, Gabriel Duarte. “Fue un proyecto regional que se llevó a cabo en Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras. En Guatemala, el proyecto se realizó de 2019 a 2020 con enfoque, investigación y acción participativa. Entrevistamos a 30 jóvenes de la diversidad sexual y de género”.

Solo uno de cada 20 jóvenes es empresario

En 2020, más del 40 por ciento de los jóvenes LGBTIQ+ de 15 a 29 años tuvieron su primera experiencia en el mundo laboral como asalariados y menos del 5 por ciento (uno de cada 20) tuvieron negocio propio, según el Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE).

El Estado hondureño tiene debilidades que afectan a la población joven LGBTIQ+. Una de ellas es que el artículo 14 del Código de Trabajo prohíbe la discriminación por diversos motivos, pero nunca aborda la orientación sexual o género.

En cuanto a las discriminaciones contra la comunidad LGBTIQ que pueden llevar procesos legales, no hay ninguna tipificación de delito.

“Uno de los obstáculos del diseño de políticas públicas es no contar con estadísticas oficiales que muestren qué porcentaje de la población se autoidentifica como LGBTIQ+”, enfatizó Duarte.

Menos acceso a educación igual a menos oportunidades

Según Gabriel Duarte, la falta de acceso a educación de calidad impacta directamente en el tipo de empleo y la remuneración económica.

“Muchas personas LGBTIQ+ que entrevistamos en esta investigación describían de que al salir del clóset tuvieron que abandonar su hogar porque su familia no los había aceptado”, dijo Duarte.

Esta primera ponencia resalta la necesidad de cerrar brechas de acceso a oportunidades de educación.

También propone tener políticas de inclusión y de prevención de la discriminación dentro de los lugares de trabajo, ya que muchas personas mencionaron que no sufrían necesariamente violencia física, sino psicológica dentro de estos espacios laborales.

Duarte resaltó que la oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas recomendó asegurarse de que no haya discriminación en el acceso a los servicios básicos, incluso en el contexto del empleo y de la atención de la salud, y ofrecer educación y capacitación para prevenir la discriminación y estigmatización de las personas LGBTIQ+.

El caso de Walmart

“Cambiar la mentalidad no solo de nuestros asociados, sino también del contexto guatemalteco», dijo la representante de Walmart, Ana Valeria.

Agregó que es necesario dejar de creer que es posible llamar “pobrecita” a una persona con discapacidad.

Según Valeria, Walmart les ha dado valor a estas personas de aportar su talento y habilidades al desarrollo de las unidades de trabajo.

“Walmart en Guatemala cuenta con 367 asociados y asociadas con discapacidad que día a día muestran la pasión y el compromiso de seguir trabajando y aportando en cada una de nuestras metas”, dijo la representante de la multinacional.

Un carnet para identificar el género

Walmart enfrenta los retos sociales y culturales de las regiones de Guatemala, agregó Valeria, “garantizamos entornos laborales seguros y diversos. Comunicamos de forma abierta y clara nuestra postura como compañía hacia la inclusión y el apoyo a la Comunidad LGTB. Tuvimos resultados que se transformaron en un gran reto y opiniones diversas de los sectores de Guatemala”.

Walmart ha avanzado en la integración del talento diverso, según Valeria. “Quienes forman parte de la comunidad LGTB pueden ahora identificarse con un gafete de Walmart. Creemos que estos asociados tienen la libertad de ser ellos mismos y elegir al momento de utilizar esta identificación. Pueden portar el nombre que les permita ser ellos mismos y expresarse con sus características únicas dentro de cada una de nuestras tiendas”.

La compañía con sede en Arkansas, Estados Unidos, da también paquetes de beneficios en igualdad de condiciones para sus asociados, dijo Valeria.

Walmart “no limita las oportunidades de carrera, ascensos, información e igualdad de condiciones para sus asociados”.

La compañía, considerada “el empleador más privado más grande del mundo” tiene, según su representante, “la responsabilidad de impactar positivamente en las sociedades y comunidades donde operamos”.

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