MAINE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT
Gays, lesbians need law's protection, tooWe are all God's children. None should be left out.
©Copyright 1997 Guy Gannett Communications
Maine has the chance to tell the world that this state doesn't discriminate, beginning with a public hearing in Augusta on Tuesday. That is when the Legislature's Judiciary Committee hears testimony on Sen. Joel Abromson's L.D. 1116, amending the Maine Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a protected category. It would end shameful discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit. It would extend to gays and lesbians the same protections now afforded citizens based on their race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin and physical or mental handicap.
The bill should receive a favorable recommendation from the committee and an overwhelming vote of approval from the Legislature. Gov. King is waiting to sign it - and those of our children, friends, work mates and loved ones who are gay are waiting to be fully protected citizens at last. We are all God's children, and none should be left out.
''It is no longer legal to discriminate against a Jewish person in Maine. We have a human rights law that specifically bans discrimination based on religion. It is no longer legal in Maine to discriminate against a Gypsy because we have a human rights law that specifically bans discrimination based on race. It is no longer legal to discriminate against a Slav in Maine because we have a human rights law that specifically bans discrimination based on national origin. We have similar laws that protect us if we are male or female, old or young, black or white.
''Only if you are gay or lesbian can we legally discriminate against you in the state of Maine,'' says Abromson.
That should not be. The Portland Republican is sensitive to those who may oppose a discrimination ban for gays purely on religious grounds, and has included an exemption for religious organizations. For the world at large, however, discrimination against gays is simply wrong, and contrary to the concept of equal protection under the law on which this country was founded.
There is ''no gay exemption in the right to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' in the Declaration of Independence. Job discrimination against gays - or anybody else - is contrary to these principles,'' former Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz. - ''Mr. Conservative'' - wrote on these pages in 1994.
He is right. Maine should affirm it with the Legislature's passage of L.D. 1116.
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Gays, lesbians need law's protection, tooPortland Press Herald -- Monday, April 7, 1997''Only if you are gay or lesbian can we legally discriminate against you in the state of Maine,'' says Abromson.
That should not be.