Thursday, December 29, 2005

Maine's Anti-Discrimination Law Now in Effect

(Link) After a 30-year effort and two attempts to stop it, Maine becomes the last of the New England states to bar discrimination against gays and lesbians.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
From Associated Press

(AUGUSTA, ME) — Maine became the last New England state to protect homosexuals from discrimination Wednesday as a law that voters refused to repeal last month went on the books.

The law took effect quietly and without fanfare. The Human Rights Commission expected no flood of complaints because the gay rights law is not retroactive.

Maine voters on Nov. 8 rejected by a 55-45 percent margin an initiated proposal to repeal a legislatively enacted law to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education.

It adds new protections to Maine's Human Rights Act while making Maine the sixth and final state in the New England region to adopt a law barring discrimination against gays and lesbians. Maine's law was enacted after a 30-year effort and defeats of two past laws at the polls.

Pat Peard, who has been involved in the effort to enact a law for more than a decade, said she did not expect to see a wave of complaints as the law takes effect.

"The importance of the day is it's finally happened and Maine citizens have an extra measure of protection they didn't have before," said Peard.

The Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders marked the day by updating its publication about legal issues to include information on Maine's new law. GLAD also said it is recruiting additional Maine-based attorneys for its legal referral service.

"GLAD worked very hard with our partners in Maine to make this day a reality," said Lee Swislow, the group's executive director. "Now we stand ready to see that Mainers know about their new rights and that the law is implemented and enforced."

Opponents of Maine's law have maintained it's a step toward gay marriage in the state. Maine has a domestic partner registry, but it also has a statute that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

A push for a state constitutional amendment barring gay marriage remains a possibility.

"We'll be making a decision soon after the new year," said Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.