Thursday, February 21, 2013

Committee Tables Marriage Equality Amendment

A House Committee voted Thursday to effectively kill a proposed constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

The House Voters & Elections Committee voted 7-4 to table House Joint Resolution 3 sponsored by Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe.

All Republican members of the committee were joined by Democrats Debbie Rodella of Espanola and Mary Helen Garcia of Las Cruces to table the legislation.

Immediately before the vote, Egolf's voice was full of emotion when he said, "If this doesn't go forward, it's an extraordinary shame that people have to come here to ask for permission under the law to be treated equally.

Among the supporters for the measure was House Speaker Kenny Martinez, D-Grants, who compared the issue to interracial marriage, which was illegal in many Southern states before the 1967 Loving vs. Virginia case in which the U.S. Supreme Court declared such laws to be unconstitutional. Martinez noted that many of the arguments against interracial marriage at the time were based in religion.

That also was the case with the arguments against Egolf's proposed amendment. Many of those who testified against HJM 3 were clergy. One opponent told the committee, "Rome burned while men lusted over one another. ... Sodom and Gomorrah were ripped from the face of the Earth while men lusted over men. ... Can we expect (God) to bless America if we sanction this experiment? "

Had the resolution passed the Legislature, there would have been a proposed constitutional amendment on the state's general election ballot in November 2014.

More in tomorrow's New Mexican.