Family Values in the Eye of the Beholder
Rep. David Chavez is divorced.
I bring this up not because I’m an insane jerk who revels in others’
misfortune, but because Chavez is sponsor of House Joint Resolution
22: “Marriage Defined.”
As you probably guessed immediately, HJR22 puts to voters in the
coming general election whether they want an amendment in the New
Mexico Constitution “to define marriage as the union of one man and
one woman and to provide that New Mexico does not recognize marriages,
civil unions or similar relationships entered into by persons of the
same sex in another state or foreign jurisdiction.”
HJR22 got bitch slapped in the House Consumer and Public Affairs
Committee this morning. Committee chair Gail Chasey tabled it (meaning
it’s postponed basically forever, since the session is almost over)
after commenting “My feeling is if we subject civil rights questions
to voters, African Americans would not have civil rights in the
I had to talk with Chavez after the hearing. I don’t understand why
anyone cares if gays get married, and I really don’t understand why a
politician who’s been divorced would argue for something we so often
hear is about the “sanctity of marriage.”
“This is a moral issue involving defining marriage,” he said. “It has
nothing to do with me. I’m not a moral compass. This is a much broader
issue I’ve brought on behalf of my constituents and fellow
But who cares? What’s the point? Who is the state to tell people whom
they can or can’t marry?
The point, Chavez said, is to “end the controversy that continues to exist.”
But who benefits from legislation refusing to acknoledge gay marriage?
“It’s biblical,” Chavez told me. “In our society it’s important to
have sanctity of marriage. It needs to be defined as between a man and
But who benefits?
“The whole conversation clarifies the definition,” he said. “It’s
important the people of New Mexico get their say so. This shouldn’t be
a legislative decision, it should be decided by the voters.”
Chasey didn’t think so, nor did a speaker in the committee hearing who
said civil rights for a minority group should not be put up to the
will of the majority.
Nor did Santa Fe city councilor Patti Bushee: “I’m an elected voice
for the people of Santa Fe, given authority to create laws for people
in Santa Fe, and yet in my personal life I’d be unable to marry the
person I love.”
Chavez had a speaker at the hearing, too, named Tony. Tony told the
committee gay marriage was becoming legal in some states because of “a
very vocal minority pushing an agenda… ignoring the will of the
“Don’t allow a progressive mindset or opinion to trample the sanctity
of marriage,” he said.
Chavez doesn’t see a cognitive dissonance in someone who got a divorce
fighting gay marriage on the sanctity-of-marriage argument. I asked
about this a few different ways, and he was good enough to keep
indulging me. He just wants to put the question to voters, he kept
My last question was whether or not he felt this was a losing battle.
Hasn’t history shown that in similar situations, the group fighting
for its civil rights always prevails eventually?
He reminded me that it isn’t a civil rights issue for him. Then he
said “I don’t think it’s a losing battle. These are sound principles
established since the founding of this country.”
Were there gay colonists, wanting to be wed, only to be told their
love for one another didn’t fit an established definition?
Happy Valentines Day.