Commission accepts resolution opposing gender identity bill

Mike Linn

The Roosevelt County Commission adopted a resolution on Tuesday opposing Senate Bill 28, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution also states that the commission is in support of a referendum to appeal the bill.
The commission voted to accept the resolution by a 4-1 vote with commissioner Dennis Lopez dissenting.
“I don’t have a problem with not discriminating based on sexual orientation, but I think the Legislature went overboard with the gender identity issue,” Lopez said.
Lopez was referring to a stipulation in the bill that makes it unlawful to discriminate against gender identity, which safeguards men who dress like women and vice versa.
Sexual orientation is defined as heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, whether actual or perceived — orders not previously protected under the New Mexico Human Rights Act.
Commissioner Gene Creighton spearheaded the adoption of the resolution, which also supports New Mexicans petitioning for a referendum to stop the bill via a state-wide vote in the November 2004 general election.
Ten percent of New Mexicans must sign a petition for the referendum if the issue is to be resolved from the popular vote. The petitions must be completed and in the hands of the secretary of state by July of 2004.
If New Mexicans want to halt the bill before it becomes law next month, then 25 percent of the population — about 125,000 people — must sign the petition by Friday, something lobbyist against the bill say is a longshot at best.
“I think this effort will probably continue on until the second deadline,” said Pam Wolfe, a liaison with the secretary of state and the media who is against the bill. “There was a very short window from the time we finally got authorization — about three weeks ago — from the attorney general and the secretary of state’s office to begin the effort.”
Some supporters have estimated as many as 30,000 people have signed the petition as of Tuesday.
Also discussed at Tuesday’s meeting:
• The commission discussed problems that may arise on county road intersections because of stop signs blocked by excessive shrubbery.
Kelly Richardson presented pictures of intersections where stop signs were hidden by tree limbs, adding that recently she almost collided with a driver who sped through a stop sign at the intersection of Roosevelt Road 8 and Highway 206, which is known as the Dora Highway. Richardson was driving on Highway 206 at the time of the near collision.
“It’s not just one incident; it happens all the time,” Richardson said. “Sometimes you feel like a moving target on that highway (206). Somebody is going to get hurt or killed.”
Commissioners seemed genuinely concerned about the situation, and said they will contact the state highway department and relay the message.
• The commission voted to give $12,500 to the Roosevelt County Community Development Center.
• The commission allocated $7,800 to NCA Architects to do a study of the Roosevelt County Detention Center for possible expansion or the building a new jail entirely.