By Steve Terrell: The New Mexican
Unmarried couples would get the same rights and privileges as their married counterparts under a bill recommended Wednesday by a Senate Committee.
The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 5-4 to recommend passage of Senate Bill 12, also known as the Domestic Partners Rights & Responsibilities Act.
While supporters say it’s a civil rights issue, opponents argue that the legislation effectively would give legal recognition to homosexual marriage.
The Senate Judiciary Committee could vote on the bill Friday afternoon, possibly setting up a debate by the full Senate.
Judiciary Committee Chairman and bill sponsor Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said he thinks he has the votes in the committee.
Last year, a similar bill passed the House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The legislation would give certain unmarried couples — homosexual or heterosexual — the same legal protections and benefits as married couples.
Most of those who spoke against the bill Wednesday were religious leaders.
However, much of the emphasis by proponents who spoke was not on same-sex couples but on the benefits they said the bill would have on elderly couples who couldn’t marry for economic reasons.
Norma McCallan, 75,