New Mexico Governor Approves Domestic Partner Benefits

April 18, 2003 ( - Domestic partners of gay and lesbian employees of the state of New Mexico will get state worker benefits as of July 1 after Governor Bill Richardson signed an executive order authorizing the move.

The Richardson order says that the state employee and his or her domestic partner must sign legal affidavits stating that they have a domestic partnership and must be in a mutually exclusive, committed relationship, according to a report from Washington-based legal publisher BNA. According to the order, the employee and partner also must share responsibility for each other’s welfare and financial obligations and share the same primary residence for 12 or more consecutive months.

The controversial issue of giving benefits to domestic partners of employees is increasingly popping up around the country at both the state and federal levels:

  • US Senator Joe Lieberman (D-Connecticut), a presidential hopeful, promised in late March that he would reintroduce a Senate bill granting the same benefits to domestic partners of federal workers as spouses currently receive.The legislation would give domestic partners life and health insurance, retirement pay, and compensation for on-the-job injuries. Domestic partners could be gay or straight, as long as they file an affidavit saying they are living together in a committed, intimate relationship, but are not married (See Lieberman Vows Federal Domestic Partner Benefits Bill).
  • A similar effort to extend benefits to employees’ domestic partners failed in Montana February 26 when lawmakers there tabled such a benefits proposal. C ritics were quick to object to the notion, saying it would escalate insurance rates, degrade the sanctity of marriage, and give special treatment to gays and lesbians (See Montana Domestic Partner Benefit Bill Tabled).
  • A domestic partner benefits provision likewise failed in Minnesota earlier this month when it was stripped out of a bill approving state labor contracts during tough last-minute negotiations between lawmakers and Governor Tim Pawlenty. Debate on the issue turned rancorous with state Senator Michele Bachmann raising concerns that the costs of those benefits would be prohibitive because “the homosexual lifestyle makes them more likely to be disproportionate consumers of health-care services” (See Minnesota Governor to Sign Labor Bill Minus Domestic Partner Benefits).
  • Port of Seattle commissioners voted down a proposal April 9 requiring contractors doing business with the port to provide domestic partner benefits.The vote, 3-1 against the proposal, came just one month after commissioner Lawrence Molloy asked the port to consider adopting the same policy as the city of Seattle, which has required equal benefits from contractors since 1999 (See Seattle Port Denies Domestic Partner Benefits Proposal ).