Dear EQNM Partners and Friends,
It is with mixed emotions that we communicate yesterday’s result for HJR3 – Rep. Egolf’s bill to amend our Constitution to provide for same-sex marriage. The bill was tabled in the Voters and Elections Committee by a vote of 7-4.
Rep. Egolf took a very public stand in support of marriage equality, and EQNM is thankful to have such a committed ally. EQNM holds a fundamental belief that freedoms, such as the freedom to marry, should not be subject to a popular vote. This was a complicated stance to take given this amendment to the Constitution would have been put on the ballot in 2014. In terms of the progression of the bill, there was little chance of it receiving a ‘do pass’ by the Voters and Elections Committee, as evidenced by the vote count. Nevertheless, we made history with a marriage equality bill advancing from the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee in the New Mexico State Legislature. To be certain — CHANGE IS HERE.
Complicating matters further, the work that EQNM has done in terms of advocacy and polling indicates that a ballot issue would have had a very tough road to victory, including the need to implement a very robust and expensive public relations and education campaign to move the dial in the voting booths. While we at EQNM are working to secure the resources and organize with other organizations, communities, and constituency groups, we’re just not there….YET.
Yesterday was tough — not just because we felt conflicted in our stance, but also because of what we had to witness today. We heard harsh words aimed at our communities, our families, and ourselves as individuals. “They don’t fit together,” a public health nurse said, referring to our anatomical makeup; “they’re an abomination,” was a frequent phrase used, even by two parents with gay sons. And I must say, I was emotionally and mentally exhausted upon leaving that hearing room. But there was so much pride and love present in that hearing room, too. One youth who stood courageously said, “Gay people love just like straight people do. It’s that simple.” Out of the mouth of babes! We had Veterans who honorably served our country, challenging this notion of fighting for freedom overseas while being denied their freedom at home. Another talked about the pain of our history with interracial marriage, and how she now faces yet another discriminatory hurdle to be recognized in her 30-year relationship with her partner. For those who stood up in courage and love in the face of opposition, I express my sincerest gratitude to you. I am proud and honored to have shared that space and time with you.
It’s important that we support each other and our community through this experience. But rest assured that there is major work already underway to secure the freedom to marry in New Mexico. Many of you are aware of the All Families Matter Campaign — a public education effort comprised of media and grassroots outreach, and anchored by a coalition that has been working together for some time. EQNM has been a partner in this Campaign, and as I am integrating further and further into my role as EQNM’s Executive Director, we are becoming a much more visible and strategic presence. If you as an organization or individual are interested in learning more about this work, or becoming directly involved, I invite you to contact me at email@example.com. We have a long way to go in reaching our large and vast Land of Enchantment, but I am committed to learning from and working with those who have already been tirelessly engaged in our diverse communities to help guide this Campaign.
But, there is something you can do without formally participating in the Campaign. As you talk with friends and neighbors about the freedom to marry, remind them that in New Mexico, we believe in treating others as we want to be treated. Ask them how they would feel if they couldn’t marry the person they love, and then ask why it’s then okay for our community to suffer that inequity. Remind them that more and more states are supporting marriage fairness for same-sex couples, and that the numbers clearly show that more and more Americans believe that gender should not preclude couples who love each other and are committed to building a family together from marrying one another, if they so choose.
As I mentioned earlier, the effort to move our state toward equality for our entire LGBT community, including the freedom to marry, requires lots of work, lots of voices, and yes — lots of money. I ask that each and every one of you consider putting some money where are opponents’ mouths are — if everyone in the LGBT community in our great state were to contribute $20 per month to equality, we would raise over $20 million in one year — that’s just based on the recent Gallup poll that indicates a 4.9% LGBT population here in New Mexico (certainly an underestimate); and, doesn’t include our many, many allies! WE HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO RAISE SERIOUS CHANGE MONEY. To put this in coffee terms, $20 a month is about a latte a week.
Yesterday was challenging, but I am confident that we are on a trajectory that will win the freedom to marry in the short-term, and advance equality for all LGBT New Mexicans. I remain honored and privileged to lead EQNM as we strive for and claim our liberation. Thank you for your continued support!
Yours in Equality,