Target: Representatives David Gallegos and Nora Espinoza
Goal: Stop “religious liberty” bill from stomping on the rights of LGBT people in New Mexico.
Lawmakers in New Mexico are attempting to restrict the rights of LGBT people with oppressive new legislation. Calling it a “religious liberty” bill, republican sponsors David Gallego and Nora Espinoza introduced HB55 to supposedly protect the rights of people with “strongly held religious beliefs.” However, what the legislation would really do, if enacted, is allow and even protect the discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation.
New Mexico already has a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) on the books. Furthermore, the state even has exemptions to its Human Rights Act that allow the discrimination of LGBT individuals in hiring and renting practices by religious institutions. The new bill seeks to go a step further and extend the reach of the RFRA to allow rampant discrimination by any business or legal entity.
Much like Indiana’s notorious religious freedom act, HB55 would allow businesses to refuse service to certain individuals and even entitle the owners of the business to damages from possible legal action following a discriminatory act. The bill would essentially stop the nondiscrimination clauses of New Mexico’s Human Rights Act from applying to spousal affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
This bill flies in the face of civil rights and equality. Religious Freedom Restoration Acts were initially created to protect Native American ceremonial lands and practices, not to allow certain forms of discrimination on religious grounds. The New Mexico state Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2013 that the RFRA does not justify anti-gay discrimination. Demand the sponsors of this bill stop trying to twist New Mexico law to fit their own prejudices.
Dear Representatives Gallegos and Espinoza,
I am outraged by your sponsorship of HB55, or the supposed “religious liberty” bill. The bill seeks to dramatically extend the reach of New Mexico’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to allow the discrimination of individuals based on sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, or gender identity.
The New Mexico state Supreme Court already ruled in 2013 that the RFRA does not justify anti-gay discrimination. Your attempt to twist the language of the act to fit your own prejudices is an affront to civil rights. Despite what HB55 bill proposes, businesses and legal entities are not people and cannot have “deeply held religious beliefs”. Thus, they do not enjoy the privilege of treating certain individuals differently when providing a service.
Bills like HB55 are just thinly veiled attempts to stomp on the rights of certain people. Religious freedom is a concept that should be applied to individual freedom from government overreach, not as a justification for discrimination. Please keep New Mexico a safe place for LGBT people and stop your sponsorship of this hateful bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Benson Kua