New Mexico is a popular retirement area because of the dry heat, lower housing costs when compared to Arizona, and the gorgeous scenery. But is it a good place for LGBT people to retire or move to? With several large cities, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, the state does have some majorly progressive areas. Santa Fe, in fact, has been called one of the country’s gay capitals, while Albuquerque has appeared on a number of great gay friendly places to live.
While most states specified marriage as between a man and a woman in their state statutes, New Mexico is one of the only states that never specified gender in any legal regulation regarding marriage. Because of this, the decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was always somewhat up in the air. The state long had a history of leaving the decision in the hands of the county, and in 2013, eight out of the 33 counties in the state began offering same-sex marriage license. Those eight, however, were the largest and actually contained more than 50 percent of the state’s population.
One county had actually issued same-sex marriage licenses in 2004, but the state attorney general quickly marked them as invalid. Starting in August of 2013, some counties started issuing marriage licenses, and those were held to be valid. In December 2013, the state supreme court officially legalized same-sex marriage.
Even though same-sex marriage was not recognized until 2013, the government had provided same-sex partner benefits to state employees starting in 2003.
If you want to be parents in New Mexico, the process is just as easy as it is with opposite-sex couples. Single people and same-sex couples can adopt, and second-parent adoptions are fairly common. IVF and sperm donor insemination is easily accessible for lesbian couples, too.
New Mexico does include sexual orientation and gender identity in its hate crimes laws. An executive order from 1985 already prevented discrimination based on orientation in public employment, but legislation passed in 2003 extended that protection to include gender equality and to add protections for housing, credit, employment, and union memberships. Cases filed against businesses that have discriminated against LGBT people have been successfully fought in court provided there is enough evidence.
Overall, New Mexico is a fairly welcoming place for LGBT people, especially if you’re moving to one of the larger cities. In addition to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Taos is another good option. Most people would say to avoid the southern part of the state, however, because it does tend to be more conservative.