Updated: Thursday, 17 Feb 2011, 7:52 PM MST
Published : Thursday, 17 Feb 2011, 4:16 PM MST
SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) - Two House bills propose to amend the New Mexico Constitution to read that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman, while another measure would void civil unions performed out of New Mexico.
Rep. David Chavez , R-Los Lunas, is sponsoring House Bill 162 , which states that out-of-state marriages would not be recognized in New Mexico. Chavez said his legislation comes on heels of Attorney General Gary King's statement last month that civil unions performed outside of New Mexico's jurisdiction would likely be valid.
"We need to have some continuity and conformity to the law, so it's not helter-skelter," Chavez said.
Currently, same-sex marriages are not performed in New Mexico. But no laws explicitly define marriage as between one man and one woman. It is also unclear if the state recognizes out-of-state unions.
Chavez said he hopes to bring clarity with his bills.
Chavez is also sponsoring House Joint Resolution 8 , which would allow voters to decide if the constitution should be amended to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Rep. Nora Espinoza , R-Roswell, is sponsoring similar legislation with HJR 7 .
The issue is drawing strong opinions from both sides.
"In my case, I have a son who is in a relationship with a same-sex partner, and its very difficult," said Gilbert Pino, who opposes gay marriage. "I love my son to death, and a lot of people see my pain, and they say you're a gay-hater. But heaven, how can I hate my son? I love him to death, but this is my true belief."
"I believe marriage is about love, and it's hard for me to wrap my head around why someone would oppose my right to express love," said Alix Bjorklund who supports gay marriage.
Same-sex marriage supporters said the atmosphere at the Roundhouse is very different compared to last year when they were fighting for a domestic partnership bill. That measure, which would have given gay and straight couples the same rights, died in the Senate.
Gov. Susana Martinez is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Late Thursday the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee tabled all three measures on 3-2 party-line votes.
“We don’t dare call today’s development a victory, but we are clearly happy that these bills have been tabled for now," Todd McElroy of Equality New Mexico said in a statement released by the organization. "EQNM applauds our legislators who saw this bill as an affront (to) New Mexico's families.
“We will remain vigilant, however, to see that these bills do not rise again in the remaining days of this session.”