Editor: Michael Kunzelman
"An Ignorant Trend"
In recent years, many trends have spread from state to state, many times improving conditions across the country. Environmental and social service reform seem to dominate the current movement for change across the nation. Unfortunately, an unenlightened trend, which has, until now, been relegated to the Western part of the country, has arrived in New England. Maine is on the verge of passing legislation which will effectively restrict the rights of gays in that state.
Under the initiative on the November ballot, those groups which originally appeared as part of the state's Human Rights Act would be protected from, or have legal basis to claim against discrimination. This erases sexual orientation from the state's Hate Crimes Act, and in effect, prevents gays from filing suits and having justice served. This push comes under the assumption that the gay community is nothing but a special interest group seeking special privileges.
As in Colorado, Oregon, and Idaho, which have attempted to pass similar measures, the misconception is that homosexuals are out for special rights. This would mean that, in all situations, gays were on equal footing with everyone else. What many groups across the nation are decrying is that rights protecting an individual are not special rights, but equal rights for all.
Fortunately, many of the most influential peoplein the state are rallying behind the opposition to this bill. Led by Gov. Angus King, major businesses and others have formed Maine Won't Discriminate in fighting to prevent passage of the bill.
The current struggle of the gay community is an important one. While many sections of the country harbor no animosity toward the gay community, ignorance and fear still move others to rash action. What he residents of not just Maine, but the entire country, must realize is that gays have existed since this country began and are now beginning to feel safe enough to come forward. It is unconstitutional and immoral for the country to restrict their rights. Whether people like it or not, homosexuals are also U.S. citizens.