Governor Lujan Grisham appoints Bloomfield-area resident to state human rights commission
FARMINGTON — A Bloomfield-area resident has been chosen to serve on the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.
MP Schildmeyer applied for and was appointed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to a one-year term on the commission.
“I was certainly humbled and honored,” Schildmeyer said, adding that she is very excited about the possibilities the new appointment brings.
In addition to hearing discrimination cases, the commission also promotes human rights statewide.
“It’s kind of right up my alley,” Schildmeyer said.
She has been involved in social justice movements since she was a teenager in the 1960s in Atlanta, Georgia.
Schildmeyer credits her interest in social justice to the day she walked into a Woolworth’s and sat at a lunch counter and ordered fries. She said she had just moved to Atlanta from Cincinnati, Ohio.
As she sat at the counter, she noticed people seemed apprehensive. She said she realized the people who were serving her were African American and eventually someone told her she did not belong there.
She looked around and saw another lunch counter at the other end of the store. That was when she realized she had sat down at the lunch counter for African Americans.
Schildmeyer finished her fries without an incident and then left the lunch counter.
“It certainly made me aware,” she said.
She began campaigning and advocating for equal rights for people regardless of their skin color, gender or sexual orientation.
In the 1970s, she participated in an Equal Rights Amendment March in Washington, D.C. and she has been involved in the LGBTQ rights movement.
“My involvement in all of these movements has continued to today,” she said.
Schildmeyer practiced law for 20 years starting in 1981. She said the AIDS crisis had just begun. Early on, the epidemic was called gay-related immunodeficiency (or GRID) rather than AIDS.
As a member of the LGBTQ community who had friends who contracted AIDS, the consequences of the disease hit close to home for Schildmeyer.
Same-sex partners were unable to visit each other in the hospital.
Schildmeyer and other lawyers worked to create documents that would allow them to visit each other and would protect their children.
When she quit practicing law, she took a job at an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.
“I’d always enjoyed working on my vehicle,” Schildmeyer said.
She spent 15 years working for the company and worked her way up to become a store manager.
That job took her first to Albuquerque and later to Farmington.
“My partner and I had always wanted to retire out West,” she said.
And, when the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, Schildmeyer and her partner traveled to Santa Fe and joined about 100 other same-sex couples waiting in line for a marriage license.
Schildmeyer said New Mexico still has work to do when it comes to human rights. She highlighted the Yazzie lawsuit that found discrimination in allocation of money to schools with large minority populations, especially Native American populations.
In addition, Schildmeyer said there is only one brick and mortar LGBTQ community center in the state — Identity Inc. in Farmington.
Those are two areas that Schildmeyer said could improve in terms of human rights in New Mexico.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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