Big day today in the Senate. Not one, but two Senate committees, Public Affairs and Judiciary, will hear not one, but bills dealing with domestic partnerships.
There's the Domestic Partner Rights & Responsibilities Act (SB 12), sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque. This would establish domestic partnerships, giving those who enter into such an arrangement the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. This is the bill embraced by gay-rights activists.
Also set for hearing is the Contractual Common Households ACT, (SB 144) which sponsor Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, says would ensure rights without leading to same-sex marriage in New Mexico.
Sharer says his bill wouldn't require an intimate relationship to join into a household contract. Sharer, who claims McSorley's bill would lead the the courts to legalize same-sex marriage, says SB 144 would put the state in a better position to avoid such a a legal battle. Sharer bases his argument on the situation in California, where the Supreme Court ruled banning same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Advocates of McSorley's bill however, argue that SB 12 has nothing to do with marriage.
The meeting is scheduled after today's Senate floor session (but I'm betting on later, just knowing how things go around the Roundhouse during a session.)
Besides the good news of two committees meeting at once -- a time saver for everyone involved -- even better news is that it's going to be held in the Senate Chambers, so, unlike those broom closets they call committee rooms, there should be plenty of room for the public.
Praise be to the wisdom of these committees! Combining committee hearings and using the Senate or House Chambers for controversial bills that attract big crowds should be encouraged.
Also, here's my story about Tuesday's State Investment Council meeting at which state Land Commissioner Pat Lyons and state Investment Officer Gary Bland discussed the Vanderbilt pay=to=play lawsuit. Lyons' main point was that the SIC itself never actually voted on the controversial investments that lost the state about $50 million. (That's the case for most investments handled by the office.)