Presque Isle Star Herald

Aroostook Republican

November 1, 1995

Letter to the Editor

from former Attorney General, Mike Carpenter

To the Editor:

I write this letter to urge Aroostook County voters to vote no on Question One when they go to the polls next week. I am pleased to join a long list of political leaders including Governor King, Senators Snowe and Cohen and Congressman Baldacci in urging Maine citizens to reject this divisive Question One.

Contrary to what you may have been lead to believe, defeat of Question One would not grant any "special right" to any group. Question one would, however, have wide ranging ramifications for the future of our state both economically and in terms of the ability of the Legislature to protect any group against which there is proven discrimination. Passage of Question One would, by law, take away from every municipality in the state the ability to make decisions on its own in this particular area. Additionally, passage of Question One would strip from the Maine Civil Rights Act a very valuable protection against violence in the state of Maine.

When I was attorney General, we investigated and prosecuted dozens of hate crimes against Maine citizens. These acts of violence and threats of violence ought not to be allowed to continue in our state. Over 25 percent of these complaints were against people that somebody thought was a homosexual. During my time as Attorney General we investigated cases where people were badly beaten and the only protection that they had to prevent further acts of violence was with the protections of the Maine Civil Rights Act. Passage of Question One would strip from the Attorney General's office the ability to place orders of protection against people and this would be a very serious setback for law enforcement at the state level.

Question One was drafted by a Virginia lawyer and has been seriously misconstrued to the people of Maine. Its passage would put in state law a statement that says it is okay to discriminate against people in Maine because of one's preception of these people. I believe people are fair minded and don't agree with discrimination for any reason. We moved a great distance in the last few years in terms of making sure that all Maine people have a fair opportunity to a job, to housing, and to credit.

Passage of Question One would limit the state's ability to put in place these protections. I join hundreds of Maine businesses, civic, and religious organizations in urging you to give a resounding NO to the practice of discrimination in Maine when you go to the polls Nov. 7.

Michael Carpenter
Former Attorney General