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National group declares a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ rights but also ranks New Mexico protections highly

LGBTQ supporters gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2019.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
LGBTQ supporters gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2019.

The country’s largest LGBTQ plus civil rights organization has declared a state of emergency Tuesday – a first in its 40-year history. The Human Rights Campaign said it’s a response to a surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the country. In comparison, New Mexico gets high marks for its protections.

In the report “LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack,” the Human Rights Campaign describes over 75 bills signed into law in this year alone. Those include bans on drag shows, gender-affirming care and transgender youth playing in high school sports.

HRC says this has created a patchwork of state laws. So it created aguidebook that summarizes those laws, helps people understand their rights and also offers resources for travelers and those living in states where such laws passed.

New Mexico, however, is a different story. Kevin Bowen is executive director of Human Rights Alliance in Santa Fe, which produces the city’s Pride event.

"The state of New Mexico has the most comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community perhaps in the country," he said.

The guidebook lists 10 policies and notes which states do or do not have them. Two are rated as positive — a non-discrimination law and a ban on "conversion therapy," New Mexico has both of those. The rest are rated negatively and include things like bans on gender-affirming care and gender-neutral bathrooms. New Mexico has none of those state laws.

New Mexico lawmakers also passed a bill in this year's session to protect providers offering gender-affirming care and abortion, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed.

However, he says leaving New Mexico may require more planning.

This is a point where we need to be really honest with ourselves about what is happening and if we’re going to be traveling to a state that has a lot of restrictions and a lot of fear and hate-based legislation in place, we need to be cautious and careful,” Bowen said.

Bowen says his organization is also taking extra security precautions for this year’s Pride event on June 24.

“I just hope that people rally together and realize we’re gonna go through a little bit of a rough time and that’s because people are clinging to the past, and once they realize that it’s no longer appropriate things will change."

Bowen also encourages people to be aware of what is going on in their communities and to vote, especially in school board elections.