Gay rights supporters: Cosby grandstanding<BR>The Maine Archive on the Queer Resources Directory

Tuesday, May 13, 1997

Gay rights supporters: Cosby grandstanding

AUGUSTA - A leading opponent of civil rights safeguards for homosexuals drew criticism Monday for failing to say if she will try to overturn a pending gay-rights law.

Carolyn Cosby of Concerned Maine Families held a news conference Monday, saying her group has made a preliminary decision to use the so-called ''people's veto'' to repeal the anti-discrimination law.

A law to extend civil rights protections to homosexuals has passed the state House and Senate. Gov. Angus King is expected to sign it into law.

Cosby said she will decide within a week whether to try to have that law repealed.

Her comment prompted supporters of the gay-rights bill to say Cosby should have kept quiet until Concerned Maine Families decided what to do.

''She held a news conference to say nothing,'' said Rep. Richard Thompson, D-Naples, a sponsor of the gay-rights bill.

''I don't know what the purpose was, except to try to get some publicity,'' said Sen. Joel Abromson, R-Portland, the bill's prime sponsor.

Cosby has been saying for weeks that Concerned Maine Families probably would seek a referendum to let the voters veto the gay-rights bill if the Legislature passed it.

To do that, Concerned Maine Families would have to collect the signatures of about 51,000 registered voters within 90 days after the legislative session ends about three weeks from now. Doing that would prevent the law from taking effect until a referendum is held to decide its fate.

Cosby said Monday her group will not seek a referendum if the Legislature amends the bill; sends it to voters via a referendum; or, if King vetoes the bill.

Cosby said Concerned Maine Families will seek a referendum ''if the people call us and tell us they want us to do so.''

Rep. Michael Quint, D-Portland, who is gay, said Cosby knows that the Legislature will not reconsider the bill and that King will not veto it. King has repeatedly promised to sign the bill into law.

''She offered nothing today,'' Quint said of Cosby's news conference. He said Cosby held the news conference to ''keep her momentum going so she can have another press conference Monday. This was a media ploy.''

The bill on King's desk will outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. Existing law already bans discrimination in those areas based on race, sex, religion, age, national origin, ancestry and handicaps.

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