New Mexico is already ringing in the new year with an anti-LGBT bill known as a “religious liberty” bill (HB55).
The bill would allow all businesses of all sizes to discriminate against the LGBT community because of religion.
Republican Reps. David Gallegos and Nora Espinoza are sponsoring the bill.
“The intent of the bill would be to ensure people would not be forced to operate their business that was in a way inconsistent with their religious beliefs,” Gallegos said.
The state already has a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA), but the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2013 that it does not justify and anti-gay discrimination.
The new bill expands the state’s definition of the legal term “person” to include “a limited liability company” to ensure all sizes of businesses are recognized.
In 2008, Elaine Photography refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s wedding and was taken to court and lost. If this new bill passes, the company would have been allowed to discriminate against the couple.
“We are hoping that it would reduce the lawsuits, like you are saying with the photographer, because it would keep everyone on an even playing field,” Gallegos said of the bill.
State Sen. Jacob Candelaria said it would do the opposite.
“This bill goes a lot further than just wedding photography,” he said. “This bill would allow any profession, any person to deny services to people because they are lesbian or gay. That includes doctors and pediatricians treating children whose parents are gay or lesbian. In New Mexico, I would like to think that we value treating people with respect and we value treating people equally and fairly. That’s why I find this bill to be so troubling.”
The legislative session starts in January.
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