Legislation signed into law Friday will expand protections under the New Mexico Human Rights Act and remove the requirement that name changes be published in a newspaper.
Supporters of the two bills say they will strengthen LGBTQ rights by updating requirements that prohibit discrimination against protected classes and allowing people to more easily change their name to match their gender identity.
Marshall Martinez, executive director of Equality New Mexico, an advocacy group, said the legislation comes as the transgender community is targeted by hundreds of bills in other states. Just this week, Arkansas approved a bill restricting bathroom access at public schools.
“I am proud of our legislative champions, our fierce community activists and advocates, other organizations in New Mexico, and Governor Lujan Grisham who have said ‘this will not be that kind of state,’” Martinez said in a written statement.
House Bill 207 — jointly sponsored by five Democratic legislators — adds gender to the list of protected classes in the Human Rights Act and revises some definitions. It prohibits school districts, government agencies and public contractors from discriminating on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, among other categories, when providing services.
“No one should be denied public services simply for being who they are,” state Rep. Kristina Ortez, D-Taos, said in a statement.
House Bill 31 eliminates a newspaper publication requirement for people petitioning the court to change their name.
Rep. Christine Chandler, a Los Alamos Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, said it would protect people’s privacy.
“People seeking name changes are often doing so for reasons of personal safety or so they can live authentically as themselves,” she said.