Press

Maine Also Expected To Sign Civil Rights Bill

Date: 
May 06, 1997

The Maine House of Representatives gave gay rights advocates one more reason to celebrate when it passed a civil rights bill that would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations Thursday night. The bill, which passed by a vote of 84-61 came one day after the Senate approved the measure by a 28-5 vote. Maine would become the 11th state to offer gays and lesbians civil rights protection. The New Hampshire legislature passed the measure earlier in the week.

With the expected signature of both governors, every state in New England would ban civil rights discrimination against gays. The nine other states that have passed similar legislation are Rhode Island (1995); Minnesota (1993); Vermont, New Jersey and California (1992); Connecticut and Hawaii (1991); Massachusetts (1989) and Wisconsin (1982).

Although Governor Angus King has pledged to sign the measure, opponents may mount a referendum campaign to block the law this year or to overturn it in 1998.

"The people of Maine know what is right," said Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, (NGLTF). "They have always demonstrated a strong, independent way of thinking," she added. Lobel said she was "very encouraged" by the vote in Maine. "Momentum is on the rise for equal treatment for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in this nation," she went on, "and state capitals are at ground zero of this historic effort."

Gay and lesbian activists in the state have worked on this measure for the past 20 years. "This is a historic moment," noted Karen Garaghty of the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance. "We join the other five New England states in putting an end to discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens in our state," she added. "We hope the strong message New England is sending will ripple across the country."

To contact the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance, call (207) 761-3732.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.