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Susana Martinez Vetoes Licensing Bill For Veterans Including Domestic Partners

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New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) pocket vetoed a bill Friday that would have sped up occupational licensing for veterans and their spouses or domestic partners. The veto followed shortly after Martinez signed another related measure that included only spouses.

House Bill 180 and Senate Bill 258 both expedited the occupational licensing process for veterans and their spouses who are licensed in another jurisdiction. SB 258 amended the bill to include the phrase "or domestic partners" after spouses.

Martinez signed HB 180 on March 26 in a ceremony at the New Mexico Veterans' Memorial. "When military families and recent veterans move to New Mexico, we have to make it easier for them to support themselves and get to work," she said.

That law, which takes effect on July 1, requires agencies to issue a license "as soon as practicable" if an applicant has another valid credential from out-of-state.

The law does not apply to domestic partners. Martinez could have signed the second bill, which would have merged into the first bill, according to Pat Davis of ProgressNOW New Mexico.

"New Mexico has one of the largest military populations in the country," Davis told HuffPost. "You would be able to go to the local barber college or licensing division, and transfer [your credential] for the one-year deployment."

He added that the message the governor's veto gave was, "'If you're gay we're not going to help you.'"

Martinez, a popular Republican governor of a Democratic state, is seen as a rising star in her party for attracting women and Hispanics, two constituencies that the GOP struggled with in the 2012 election. On LGBT issues, Martinez attracted controversy last year after her gay hairstylist refused to cut her hair over her opposition to same-sex marriage. She remained unmoved by the plea and said he had only cut her hair a few times.

New Mexico has the dubious distinction of being the one state that neither recognizes nor disavows gay marriage or domestic partnerships.

Martinez's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: Enrique Knell, a spokesman for the governor, said that Martinez didn't sign the bill because the term "domestic partner" remained undefined.

"The language in the Senate bill did not meet federal guidelines and definitions as established by the Department of Defense," Knell said in an email to HuffPost. "In fact, there was no definition in the legislation at all -- for a term that has been defined and interpreted several different ways in state and federal law. If the bill had met federal guidelines and definitions, she would have signed it."

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