AUGUSTA - State Treasurer Dale McCormick was one of only 11 gay and lesbian leaders nationally to get the word personally from President Clinton: He'll push this year for a national law that will make it illegal to deny employment to gays and lesbians.
Clinton tells gay leaders he'll support national lawBy Nancy Perry
©Copyright 1997 Guy Gannett Communications
McCormick was invited to Washington on Tuesday for a private meeting with the president, part of his diversity campaign to reach out to different groups, according to Julie Green, a White House spokeswomen.
McCormick said that she and other gay and lesbian activists agreed prior to the meeting to make a concerted effort to convince Clinton to campaign actively for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. That bill, currently pending before Congress, would make it illegal for an employer with 15 or more workers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
But before the group could make its pitch, Clinton promised to use his influence to get the bill passed. ''That piece of legislation is definitely on the president's agenda,'' said Green.
McCormick thinks the president's active support could bring the bill up for a vote in Congress for the first time. In the past, the bill has never gotten enough support in committee to surface for floor votes.
''When he speaks, he makes a difference,'' McCormick said of Clinton. ''We asked him to use his voice to urge tolerance and acceptance . . . to make sure no one is left behind in the 21st century.''
McCormick was the first openly gay elected official in Maine, winning a seat in the state Senate in a race where her opponent made an issue of her sexual orientation. Last year, she ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for Congress. She was elected state treasurer by the Legislature last December.
The Maine Legislature passed a gay rights bill this year after 20 years of debate. Gov. Angus King signed it into law. The Christian Civic League of Maine and the Christian Coalition of Maine are now trying to collect enough signatures to overturn the law. If they fail, it will be illegal Sept. 19 to deny a person a job, a loan, an apartment or a hotel room because they are gay or lesbian.
McCormick said she did not ask Clinton to participate in the Maine campaign. ''You ask people for what they can do,'' she said.
The federal law, while not as broad as Maine's, would be the first step in that direction on the national level. It is supported by at least three members of the Maine congressional delegation: Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and Democrat Reps. John Baldacci and Tom Allen. Sen. Susan Collins could not be reached for comment about her position.
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