Voting 'no' means equal rights for all
REFERENDUM FEB. 10
Voting 'no' means equal rights for allThe journey toward our national ideal continues, and this vote is part of it.
©Copyright 1998 Guy Gannett Communications
Americans live in a nation founded on the ideal that its citizens are created equal, with liberty and justice for all.
Those aren't just words. They are the guiding principals of a journey. It began in a nation where slavery was legal and women could not vote. When those two wrongs were righted, it continued.
That point was eloquently made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, '' I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' ''
On Feb. 10 Mainers will take an important step in America's journey to become a nation for all citizens. On that date, the people of Maine will be asked if they want to repeal a law extending civil rights protections to gay men and lesbians. They should vote ''no.''
Prejudice against homosexual men and women is insidious. It results in people being denied housing, credit and jobs not only because of who they are, but also because of who they are perceived to be.
Those who discriminate on this basis seek to make the most public judgments - evictions, firings and credit denials - based on the most private aspects of people's lives.
There is more at stake here, though, than the fates of gay and lesbian people or people perceived as such. Should Maine vote against protecting the civil rights of its citizens, it will send a terrible message to the world.
That message will say that, in this state, how good you are at your job matters less than who you happen to be. Talented people will stay away from Maine, opting instead for areas of the country believed to be more tolerant.
When such discrimination occurs, it will also hurt the state by wasting good people for irrelevant reasons. Everyone suffers when a good teacher, police officer or doctor is dragged down by discrimination. Such people can make a difference in so many lives that to lose just one would cost Maine enormously.
The vote on whether to retain the law protecting the civil rights of Maine's gay and lesbian citizens is just four weeks away. It is important that all Mainers who believe in equal rights vote ''no'' at the polls Feb. 10 and tell the world: Maine won't discriminate.
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