County commission approves resolution opposing domestic partnership bill

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A resolution opposing legislative efforts to pass a domestic partnership act was unanimously approved Wednesday by the Curry County Commission.

The resolution, read by its sponsor Commissioner Caleb Chandler, was passed with minimal discussion and no objection from attendees or commissioners.

The resolution stated in part that, “The Curry County Board of Commissioners believes that enactment of a Domestic Partners Act would erode the traditional family and could lead to the breakdown of the family unit.”

At the request of former commissioner Tim Ashley, commissioners also voted to draft a letter of opposition to the proposed legislation, to be sent to legislators.

The letter would reflect that, “this (commission’s objection to same-sex marriage) has been on record for at least four years,” Chandler said.

In 2004, commissioners passed a resolution prohibiting the sale of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Chandler said Wednesday’s resolution seeks to affirm that resolve and send a message to legislators that Curry County doesn’t want a domestic partnership law passed.

During the last legislative session, a measure supporting domestic partnership was narrowly defeated.

Gov. Bill Richardson pledged his support Tuesday for domestic partnership efforts during his State of the State speech.

“If we are to be fair in how we treat our workers, then we must also be fair in how we treat our families and fully extend domestic partnership rights,” he said in his speech. “Two people, who agree to spend their lives committed to each other, deserve to have the same legal protections for their families as any other.”

Commissioners also agreed to a proposal from commissioners Robert Sandoval and Wendell Bostwick to draft a resolution to move meetings to the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Library and to hold quarterly meetings in outlying communities, including Texico, Melrose, Grady and the Special Events Center.

Sandoval has long been an advocate of relocating commission meetings over concerns the facility at the courthouse does not offer enough space for large meetings and multiple stairs at the courthouse may deter some residents from attending.

The proposal met with some concern over logistics and the possible expense of traveling.

“What kind of imposition are you making it for someone that might have an agenda item that has to drive 36 miles to Grady,” Ashley asked commissioners.

Chairman Frank Blackburn also said he was hesitant to relocate the meetings.

Chandler said he felt the changes would be minimal enough that they wouldn’t have an overly negative impact.

“I think it’s important to take government to the people sometimes, and it’s no more than one time a year (in each community),” Chandler said.

Commissioners agreed to re-evaluate if attendance to the rural meetings was low or other reasons made it ineffective.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr agreed to draft a resolution for presentation at a later meeting.