Maine GayNet - NO EXCUSE

Thursday February 5, 1998


The religious right has launched a campaign of misinformation about the law granting civil rights to gay men and lesbians. In brochures and newspaper columns, the anti-gay forces have trotted out a series of allegations against the measure. That these claims are patently false is of surprisingly little concern to a group that claims its opposition to the law is based on moral considerations.

According to opponent's propaganda, Maine will open itself to all manner of unexpected consequences if it takes the simple step of banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment, credit and public accommodation. The anti-gay groups claim this measure will force companies to pay benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual employees. That's simply untrue. The state has no law requiring companies to pay benefits to domestic partners of any sexual orientation.

The homophobes are claiming the law would compel religious organizations to hire gay men and lesbians. Again, not true. The legislation specifically exempts churches and affiliated organizations, and the measure is clear on exactly what religious groups need not obey the law.

The religious right is asserting that public schools will be forced to teach something called "the homosexual lifestyle." Wrong. School curricula remain under the control of local school committees, which can decide how, when and if any sort of lifestyle is taught.

Finally, opponents of civil rights contend this election is about defending family values. But they make no case that anything in this law threatens families in any way. The only conceivable "family value" that could come under attack if this measure is approved by voters on Feb. 10 is the one that claims it's appropriate to use the family as a front for hate.

These feeble arguments are almost certainly an attempt to confuse the public, in hopes that confusion will lead to apathy. The religious right, which claims to believe in democracy, is convinced that the fewer folks who vote, the better off their "people's veto" of the gay rights law will fare.

This could be one of those rare occasions when they're right. The key to victory in this referendum might well be the degree of voter turnout. If each of the approximately 70,000 people who'll read this newspaper between now and election day made a commitment to go to the polls and vote "No," the opposition would be hard pressed to match that effort. If each CBW reader asked just one friend, relative or acquaintance to accompany them, the result would be an overwhelming affirmation of Maine's tradition of tolerance.

On Feb. 10, a "No" vote is the most positive statement you can make.


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