Legislator offers bill to define marriage

Republican state Sen. Pat Woods of Broadview says he believes in his heart that marriage should be between one man and one woman and has introduced legislation to amend the Constitution of New Mexico to state the same.

"I just believe in my heart that's what the sanctity of marriage should be," Woods said Monday. "I don't think any other definition should be made."

If the definition of marriage isn't clear in the state Constitution, Woods would like to make it so by adding a new section of Article 20 to read, "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman."

The bill was also introduced by Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell).

Woods says his belief is logical and doesn't see a growing society if marriage were defined as anything else.

"To make a productive society, we have to have a population growth," Woods said. "We need a good solid family base of a man and a woman to make the family unit whole. It takes a man and a woman to make children."

Woods' proposal goes against what Eastern New Mexico University's Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) is fighting for.

"We do not support Representative Pat Woods' proposal for a constitutional amendment strictly defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman," said GSA President Robert Johnston.

Johnston feels Woods proposing such legislation does not fit the role of a government official.

"Imposing state–sponsored morality on people of good conscience with differing views is not what we believe our government's job is," Johnston said. "It is the government's job to ensure that all citizens enjoy the same rights, freedoms, opportunity and legal protections; this proposal would discriminate against homosexuals thereby disallowing them the same rights, freedoms, opportunity and legal protections of their heterosexual counterparts."

The bill states that the proposed amendment's fate would be left to the voters of New Mexico in the next general election or at any special election prior to the general election.

"I believe the people in eastern New Mexico believe as I do, and I'm sure if they don't, they would let me know," said Woods, a farmer and rancher. "That is how our species will maintain in the future."

Gay marriage is illegal in New Mexico, according to Woods, so he says the rejection of the amendment wouldn't necessarily have the reverse effect. He says someone would have to propose separate legislation to legalize gay marriage.

"They're trying to extend any other legal benefits through common law marriage and marriage," said Woods about gay rights groups. "None of those rights are transferable to a same-sex marriage. They want to change that definition in order to have those rights transferred."

He added that if the amendment was a success, it would strengthen the current law in place.

"It would make it a whole lot harder to pass another constitutional amendment to change that," Woods said. "It just puts a stronger piece of law into effect. Children need a man and a woman in their life. This is the only way to protect the sanctity of marriage."

Johnston said it isn't likely the proposed amendment would be accepted by New Mexican voters.

"We believe that if this proposal were to make it to the people of New Mexico for a vote it would be overwhelmingly defeated as New Mexicans are accepting, understanding and fair people," Johnston said.

Johnston said Woods can better direct his energy elsewhere.

"This bill comes at a time when students at our university may be facing severe cuts to the Lottery Scholarship, which pays for a large percentage of our student population's tuition," Johnston said. "Representative Woods' time would be better spent finding solutions to save the Lottery Scholarship to keep New Mexicans in school rather than proposing discriminatory legislation."

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