Let Maine tell world:We don't discriminate<BR>The Maine Archive on the Queer Resources Directory

Sunday, February 23, 1997

ACT TO END DISCRIMINATION

Let Maine tell world:We don't discriminate

Same-gender marriage isn't even an issue in Maine.

©Copyright 1997 Guy Gannett Communications

Gov. Gary Locke of Washington state didn't flinch last week in vetoing a ban on same-gender marriage. Concerned Maine Families has succeeded in getting a similar ban on the ballot here this fall (unless the Legislature enacts it first).

''I oppose any measure that would divide, disrespect or diminish our humanity,'' Locke said. Earlier, he had told Washington legislators: ''Our overarching principle should be to promote civility, mutual respect and unity. This legislation fails to meet this test.''

It fails to meet that test in Maine, as well. Whether couples of the same gender can marry is not even an issue here. Such marriages are not legally recognized in the state now, and no movement is afoot to make them so.

The 62,032 people whose signatures were validated on the initiative declaring ''persons of the same sex may not contract marriage'' in Maine may or may not have understood that.

Another part of the initiative may render the whole thing moot anyway. It forbids the state from recognizing such marriages performed in other states, which probably is unconstitutional. Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution says states shall not ''pass any . . . law impairing the obligation of contracts.''

Since the subject of the initiative is not an issue in Maine, legislators might be tempted to approve it and avoid an election. They should let voters decide the matter, however. Unlike its cocksure supporters, we are not at all sure the discriminatory measure would pass.

Legislators' time would be better spent debating and passing the Act to End Discrimination introduced by Sen. Joel Abromson, R-Portland, last week. The bill would finally make all forms of discrimination illegal in Maine by adding sexual orientation to the list of categories already protected under the Maine Human Rights Act.

'' . . . I wish passage of this bill were not necessary but, sadly, that is not the case. We need to send a strong message that it is no longer permissible to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians when they fill out a job application, wish to buy a house or rent an apartment, want to eat in a public restaurant or apply for credit,'' says Abromson.

He's right. Maine is too good a state to discriminate.


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