PORTLAND, Maine (Reuter) - Maine Gov. Angus King reaffirmed his intention Friday to sign gay rights legislation and blasted opponents' efforts to block the measure by public referendum.
The Maine legislature late Thursday gave all but final approval to the bill, which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodation based on sexual preference.
Opponents to the bill have said it is very likely they will mount a "citizens' veto" campaign, by collecting enough signatures to put the measure directly to the voters in a November referendum.
King noted that Maine voters in 1995 solidly defeated a measure sponsored by Concerned Maine Families that would have barred local communities from adopting ordinances that bar discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
"I just hope people don't sign the petitions. We've had the referendum, let's not do it again," King told reporters. "I think it's a mistake and there's no reason to put the people through it."
Gay rights supporters in Maine have been been lobbying lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation for more than 20 years. Lawmakers approved a similar bill in 1993 but it was vetoed by then-Gov. John McKernan.
The House vote late Thursday of 84-61 in favor of the bill was more lopsided than either supporters or opponents had predicted. The Senate had earlier approved the measure 28 to 5.
Opponents derided the bill as an attempt by homosexuals to gain special rights. Supporters said gay men and lesbians needed to be protected from pervasive bigotry in Maine.
The Maine GayNet Archive