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New Mexico's Martinez vetoes bill for gay soldiers' families

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R)
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R)Associated Press

As part of the Republicans' "rebranding" effort, the party is at least paying lip service to being more tolerant of diversity. Party leaders say they want to stop alienating women, minorities, and young people, and no longer want to be thought of in "Old Testament" terms.

But when we look past the rhetoric, rebranding, and poll-tested positioning, we see the same Republican Party, driven by the same far-right, culture-war values. Katie Mcdonough had this overlooked-but-important story this morning (hat tip to Bill Wolff).

Republican governor and gay marriage opponent Susana Martinez has vetoed a Senate bill to help the families of gay service members obtain professional licenses in New Mexico. After issuing the pocket veto, Martinez signed an identical version of the measure that would only streamline the process for straight spouses.

In recent years, policymakers have been increasingly aware of professional-licensing issues related to veterans who've already been well trained and have plenty of on-the-job experience. This "Daily Show" segment was especially memorable.

And when measures are approved to make it easier for veterans and their families to obtain professional licenses for jobs they already know how to do, I'm delighted. Indeed, these are the kinds of steps that should make a real difference in lowering the jobless rate in military communities.

But Martinez only wants to help some of those affected.

She had a choice, and the governor chose to kill the proposal that would have helped all spouses of active duty and veteran service members, choosing instead to sign a version of the bill identical except that it discriminates by not including same-sex spouses of active duty and veteran service members.

Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, a non-profit advocacy work advocating for LGBT equality and progressive issues in the state, said in a statement, "There is no excuse in today's age for signing a bill that intentionally thumbs one's nose at our gay soldiers unless you believe that their service and sacrifice is somehow less important."

Remember, Susana Martinez is supposed to be one of the Republican Party's rising stars. When GOP officials talk about those who'll help get the party back on track, they routinely point to the governor of New Mexico.

But when it comes to basic human decency, and treating people with dignity and respect, the party clearly isn't evolving as quickly as it should.