Friday, February 27, 2009

New Mexico's DP Bill Dies, Part 2: Losing Forward

The loss of a vote that we had been told was 'going to be close', by such a lopsided score, brings up some questions. Mainly, Tell me again why we're not running a marriage equality bill through a couple of committees only to get whomped on the floor?

Let's look at the tape:

At 2pm, the lobbyist representing herself as the lead on the DP bill described the substitute bill she was announcing: "We have changed the bill to try to accomodate the concerns of the religious organizations. So there are no references to spouse, to marriage, all that language is gone and we're just referencing statues now."

The substitute bill was dropped on the Senate floor at 3pm.

It was posted to a web site by a reporter who photographed a press copy, at roughly 4pm.

The citizens who had been sitting in the Senate gallery all day, to support the DP bill, didn't see the new improved bill until they got home.

Good thing it died, because the damn thing was a disaster.

It was designed to overcome every objection.

We need votes from Pinto, Lovejoy and Muñoz, whose Senate districts are mostly or all Navajo Nation land? Okay, tribes and pueblos can ignore the DP status. That'll be a nice surprise for lesbian couples who get end of life care from the Indian Health Service.

We need to prove this isn't just marriage by another name? Okay, it forces couples who are currently getting equal treatment, using marriages from elsewhere, to give up their marriage certificates to get that same equal treatment. Just swear you're not married and the health insurance keeps working.

Catholic Charities might have to start paying its gay employees the same as their straight peers once their relationships are legalized? Okay, 'religious entities' are exempt from 'recognizing' DPs.

Bonus points if you figured out that many of New Mexico's hospitals are Catholic and could claim to be exempt from recognizing domestic partnership certificates as anything. Gosh, I can't imagine a circumstance where I'd need my rights as next of kin recognized by a Catholic hospital, so that's no big deal.

The substitute bill was a fire sale, an attempt to give away whatever it took to get the votes. And there weren't enough buyers at the price.

This process, and product, are a great example of why legislative politics, the art of compromise, has been exhausted.

Now we have no DP law, just like yesterday and last week and last year.

We also have a chain of events that suggests our advocates are willing to give away anything, and anyone, in order to say they got something for us. Now that's painful.

We won't always win by pressing for what we deserve.

But clearly, compromising our goals is no guarantee of victory either.

And if we have to lose, why not lose asking for equality? Why not lose while making an open, aboveboard and straightforward argument for our full citizenship and our full human dignity?

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