On Tuesday, Democrats in the New Mexico House of Representatives voted 43-24 for H.B. 31 to allow children under 14 to change their legal name without parental consent or public notice.
“If the court finds that notice to one or more legal parents or legal guardians of a child who is under fourteen years of age will jeopardize the child’s or the applicant’s personal safety, the court shall not require notice,” the bill reads.
The bill, however, does not say what would constitute “jeopardizing” the child’s safety. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos), said during the debate that the entire matter would fall under a judge’s discretion.
Previously, in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, Chandler’s expert witness repeatedly told the committee that children under 14 would need parental consent. That turned out to be a lie.
On the House floor, Reps. Stefani Lord (R-Sandia Park), Greg Nibert (R-R0swell), and John Block (R-Alamogordo) made comments decrying the lack of parental consent.
Nibert talked about how he did not support sealing these records and depriving the parents of being able to make decisions for their children. He noted the “unintended consequences” of doing that.
Lord spoke about how this legislation could enable pedophiles and groomers to have easier access to harm children.
Block said, “It concerns me a 14-year-old could change their name without any parental involvement or consent. It’s a very slippery slope we’re going down. It’s bad policy.”
Supporters of the bill include the Transgender Resource Center for New Mexico, Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains, Equality New Mexico, and Bold Futures.
H.B. 31 now heads to the state Senate where it will be considered. If it passed the chamber, it will then head to Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk for a signature.