Vote 'no' on Feb. 10
PERCEPTION VS. REALITY
Vote 'no' on Feb. 10 to fight insidious biasDiscrimination based on sexual orientation depends on the impossible task of a public judgment of a private life.
©Copyright 1998 Guy Gannett Communications
Those who would use sexual orientation as a reason to deny housing, credit or a job to a fellow human being practice a particularly insidious form of discrimination.
When such discrimination occurs, it suggests that the offending party believes the most private aspects of a life should be judged publicly.
Never mind that a person might be an excellent teacher, that he might be a quiet tenant with a good salary or that he has a spotless credit record. To those who would discriminate against his based on her sexual orientation, the concern is not the behavior that constitutes a good worker, tenant or borrower, but his orientation with regard to a partner in life.
Those who wish to keep it legal to make such judgments like to talk about upholding moral standards and the erosion of what they believe to be society's values. Making those arguments, however, confuses what should be people's public and private business.
Ah, say those who would discriminate, but some homosexual people make public displays of their sexual lives. Indeed, some do. So do plenty of heterosexual people, however. Equal rights simply means the same standards apply to all.
Because discrimination based on sexual orientation depends so heavily on judgments about how people choose to live their lives in private, it naturally leads to attempts to interpret a person's public persona.
Thus, a a person is thought to be gay and is the victim of prejudice because of a stereotype about their occupation, for example. The need for some to discriminate based on the private lives of others logically leads to discrimination not based on what a person's orientation is, but what it is perceived to be. In this way, all Mainers are at risk when it is legal to discriminate in this way.
On Feb. 10, Mainers will go to the polls to decide if the state should retain its law protecting the civil rights of its citizens, including those who are gay or lesbian and those who are perceived as such.
It is vital for the preservation of the rights of all Mainers to fair treatment in employment, housing and credit for citizens to cast a ''no'' vote in this election. Tell those who would discriminate based on sexual orientation that the private lives of Maine citizens are none of their concern.
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