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N.M. governor criticized for vetoing bill to assist partners of gay service members

Monday, April 8, 2013
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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is drawing criticism over her veto of legislation that would have required the state to expedite the occupational and professional licenses of domestic partners of gay military service members.

The Republican governor signed into law a nearly identical measure but it applies only to spouses of military members — not domestic partners in a same-sex relationship.

Susana Martinez

The legislature sent Martinez two versions of the same bill, HB180 and SB258, making it easier for the state to help our active duty and retired service members and their spouses obtain professional services, according to Patrick Davis, Executive Director of Progress Now New Mexico, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization.

“The only difference? The Senate version contained an amendment, offered by Sen. Jacob Candelaria (the state’s only openly gay member), to be sure domestic partners of gay service members would be covered too,” said Davis, in a statement.

On Friday, Martinez vetoed the version to extend help to partners of gay service members.

A spokesman for the governor said Monday that Martinez would have signed the proposal had it included a definition of domestic partner that met guidelines established by the Defense Department. The vetoed proposal contained no definition of a domestic partner.

Progress Now New Mexico said there’s no excuse for the veto when gays and lesbians can openly serve in the military.

“The rest of the country has moved forward and understands the sacrifice our proud gay service members make,” said Davis. “There is no excuse in today’s age for signing a bill that intentionally thumbs one’s nose at our gay soldiers unless you believe that their service and sacrifice is somehow less important.”

Martinez signed HB180 on March 26. She vetoed SB258 on Friday when time to act on legislation from the 2013 legislative session had expired.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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