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THE 1997 EQUAL RIGHTS BILL
It's one page long. Click to view the full text of the Gay Rights bill as enacted by the Maine Legislature.The Text of the Veto Referendum Question:
"Do you want to reject the law passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to jobs, housing, public accommodations and credit?"
It took 20 years of trying to win passage of a law last spring adding sexual orientation to the list of protected categories in Maine's Human Rights Act. On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to uphold a "people's veto" of the new law.
Leaders of Maine Won't Discriminate claim that their opponents have misled voters with unsubstantiated claims about what the law would do.
Groups opposing the law say they are portraying the issue accurately, but have received unfair treatment from Maine's media.
M.D. Harmon proves he can count to one.
"It is not your support Michael Heath and his followers are counting on as they try to chase homosexuals out from under the state's equal-rights umbrella -- It's your apathy."
By most standards of measurement, defeat of the Feb. 10 referendum initiated by the Christian Civic League of Maine and its allies to repeal Maine's new gay rights statute should be a slam dunk.
Many of the people who are planning to vote yes said that the issue has been oversimplified; those who will vote no are more likely to say the real issue has been lost in all the other messages.
Dismal projections are shared by some election watchers who believe the single-issue, special election will fail to encourage double-digit balloting in many small towns. If so, it will be the kiss of death for this year's initiative
The vote Tuesday on Maine's new gay-rights law is, for the moment, the focus of the nationwide struggle over legal rights for gay people.
The Bangor Daily News editorial stand on the February 10th referendum
The Portland Papers' editorial stand on the February 10th referendum
The executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association had a rude awakening Friday when he learned the agency hotline was broadcasting a message urging callers to vote yes in Tuesday's referendum. A 6:30 a.m. phone call from a sportscaster for WCSH-TV, informed him that the hotline message had been altered.
In November 1992, a historic event took place: Portland voters approved the first gay rights law in Maine. But the vote was preceded by months of debate that threatened to divide the city.
Maine Won't Discriminate added two television commercials to its advertising campaign this week, giving the gay-rights group a total of three commercials airing statewide.
King tours the country speaking out against civil-rights legislation for gay men and lesbians. She was in Maine to speak about next Tuesday's referendum on the state's new law.
Joe Cooper, a spokesman for Maine Won't Discriminate accused the repeal campaign of having more money than it reported. He claimed the Christian Coalition of Maine is a "front group for the national Christian Coalition."
The accuracy of the ads is open to debate. Even so, they are expected to give the anti-gay-rights side a boost.
Gay people choose their sexual behavior, she said, so their struggle for rights has nothing to do with racial struggles. "God hates racism and God hates homosexuality," she said firmly, and people in the crowd called out "Amen."
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.
A small shell-colored cottage at the edge of Togus Pond is for sale for about $70,000. The owners plan to donate up to $10,000 of that sale to Maine Won't Discriminate.
It's unclear how much those who favor a ''yes'' vote in the referendum have raised. The two major political groups that don't want the so-called gay-rights law to take effect failed to file their spending reports by the Wednesday deadline.
"This leaves me with a bad feeling about the outcome on Tuesday. It would be a huge setback for this state to vote in favor of discriminating against gay and lesbian people. It would, I'm convinced, be an outcome that goes against the wishes of a majority of the state's citizens "
Maine Won't Discriminate has sent applications for absentee ballots to more than 5,000 voters as part of its effort to uphold Maine's gay-rights law in a referendum Feb. 10. .
Faced again with a ballot proposal, Jacobson is speaking out against discrimination and the fear of it through a program called "Maine SpeakOut." Started in 1995, the informal sessions are designed to give Maine people the opportunity to hear firsthand testimony about what its like to be discriminated against because of sexual preference.
Since he began his 390-mile hike on Jan. 15, Paul Fuller has seen time and again that Michael Heath and his band of Bible-thumping homophobes are nowhere near the majority they claim to be.
One side is relying on a church pamphlet to communicate its message, while the other side is relying on television advertising. Therein lies the difference between the campaign aimed at overturning Maine's gay-rights law, and the campaign aimed at preserving the law passed by the Maine Legislature last spring.
A University of Maine student who was charged with violating the Maine Civil Rights Act for allegedly threatening another student with anti-gay comments last week has denied some of the allegations.
Catholics from around Maine say the Diocese of Portland's neutral stand on the state's gay-rights law is just one factor, and hardly the biggest, influencing their view of next month's referendum on the law. Includes the statement from the Diocese
'It's not my place to tell you how to vote,'' King says in the television advertisement. ''But it just strikes me as wrong that somebody should lose their job because they're gay. That's why on February 10th I'm going to vote no.''
The Maine Won't Discriminate campaign took to television Friday with ads featuring Gov. Angus King pledging a Feb. 10 vote against the proposed repeal of Maine's gay rights statute.
Last Thursday, a 22-year-old University of Maine student taped a "Maine Still Won't Discriminate" brochure onto his door to remind other people in Estabrooke Hall to vote on the gay rights referendum Feb. 10. In the middle of the night, he woke to find another student had entered his unlocked room demanding to know whether he was a "fag" and if he had oral sex with men.
Maine's Roman Catholic diocese said Thursday that its neutral stance on the state's gay-rights law does not diminish its strong opposition to discrimination against homosexuals.
A commercial featuring Gov. Angus King urging a ''no'' vote on the Feb. 10 referendum will start running tonight throughout the state. It will continue to be shown until Election Day.
A civil rights complaint has been filed against Kirk R. Daigle, a University of Maine student - the fifth student to be named in a such a lawsuit this academic year. The complaint alleges that Daigle said, "I'm from Bangor and three of my best friends threw a fag off the bridge . . . "
A new independent survey shows that nearly two-thirds of Mainers polled this month would vote to uphold the state's gay-rights law if the vote were held now.
Those opposing civil rights for gay men and lesbians have a history of contradicting themselves - just one more good reason to vote "NO"on Feb. 10
"Let there be no confusion: Those who would defend the civil rights of all God's children should vote ''NO'' on Feb. 10."
A telephone survey has angered some supporters of the gay-rights law that has been frozen pending a special election Feb. 10: They say volunteers for the Christian Coalition of Maine are telling voters that the ballot will include a question on partial-birth abortion.
The Christian Coalition of Maine, which supports the Feb. 10 referendum, is calling voters statewide and asking three questions: ''Are you likely to vote in the special election Feb. 10? Do you favor special rights for homosexuals? Do you favor banning partial birth abortions?''
The repeal of Maine's gay rights law is the only issue on the ballot.
"Vote 'no' on Feb.10 to fight insidious bias. Discrimination based on sexual orientation depends on the impossible task of a public judgment of a private life."
Maine is about to decide whether its laws should protect homosexuals from discrimination. The issue has been a matter of heated debate since the 1970s. But with a vote to decide the issue just 16 days away, political analysts and advocates on both sides aren't sure that Maine's vast group of ''average middle'' voters care enough to go to the polls.
The first woman elected state treasurer and the first lesbian elected to a state Senate in 1990, McCormick was also the first woman to be admitted to the Carpenters Apprenticeship in 1979. After owning her own construction company in Iowa, she moved to Maine in 1980 to become a teacher at Cornerstone, a house-building school in Brunswick.
Donations were pouring in to the offices of Maine Won't Discriminate. With people from Maine and all over the country sending $100, $500, they have raised more than $200,000 and have about $90,000 left.
"That is the thankless task now before fair-minded residents of Maine who are scrambling to devise ways to reach others like them and get them out to vote Feb. 10 in support of the state gay and lesbian civil rights law. "
"One of the useful results of the 20-year debate over gay rights is that it has pulled out of the closet, one by one, all the terrible fears that could visit Maine if the state told its citizens they could not discriminate against a neighbor based on his or her sexual orientation. In the next month before the latest vote, let's hope the debate will chase away the remaining demons."
With the February 10 ballot referendum on Maine's gay rights law looming, a group of Boston gay men and lesbians have banded together to assist Maine activists in their campaign to beat back conservatives' attempt to repeal the legislation.
A distressing column with more misinformation than a slew of Civic League flyers. "The effort to defeat the ''people's veto'' referendum Feb. 10 to overturn Maine's new gay rights law is now in full cry. So let's look at what we're being told - and not being told - about it."
On Feb. 10 Mainers will take an important step in America's journey to become a nation for all citizens. On that date, the people of Maine will be asked if they want to repeal a law extending civil rights protections to gay men and lesbians. They should vote ''no.''
"His Bible is twisted beyond all recognition, but Michael Heath's message, at long last, is crystal clear. The executive director of the Maine Christian Civic League, hiding behind the shamefully misleading banner ''YES for EQUAL RIGHTS,'' wants Maine to do more than just repeal our new law granting just that to homosexuals. -- He wants us to make their lives miserable.
''If a Maine businessman or landlord wants to discriminate against a person because of their sexual orientation, they should be able to do so,'' wrote Michael S. Heath, head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, in a fund-raising letter sent to members in November.
The City Council is expected to vote to establishing five polling places in the city for a special election in February - as a judge has ordered it to do.
Voters will decide in a Feb. 10 referendum whether to repeal the gay-rights law, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has refused to ask church members to back the law and reject repeal. Instead, the diocese is officially neutral in the debate over repeal.
Includes Sidebar Stories:
BANGOR DAILY NEWS COVER FEATURE JANUARY 3, 1998 (3 stories)
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, January 3, 1998
GAY LIFESTYLE REJECTED FOR LIFE WITH GODShe had been attracted to women ever since she was a little girl growing up in a small French Catholic community in Maine. But after she came out, she taught herself not to be a lesbian with help from Jesus, she said.
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, January 3, 1998
GAY RIGHTS DEBATE CAUSES ANGUISH FOR SOMEJasper Wyman was the first representative to speak against the gay-rights bill. But as the executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine from 1984 to 1993, Wyman was perhaps the single most vocal opponent of the bill, campaigning against it year after year.
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, January 3, 1998 Lois Reckitt
GAY RIGHTS DEBATE OUT OF THE CLOSETLike most people growing up in the 1950s and '60s, Lois Reckitt didn't know any gay people. "I didn't know they existed. I never met a lesbian until I was in college. Then I met one," she said. "One."
A judge ordered city officials to open at least five polling places for a Feb. 10 vote on whether to repeal a new law extending equal rights to homosexuals. The city had decided earlier to open only one polling place because officials expected low voter turnout.
Larry Lockman was second fiddle to Carolyn Cosby in the 1995 anti-rights referendum. He sends regular rants to the Bangor Daily News -- a view into the belly of the beast...
"Maine should not lag behind New Hampshire or any other state when it comes to securing the rights of it citizens. That's a lesson to take into the voting booth Feb. 10.
It won't be long before Maine's homophobes are back on the streets, telling us that the new state law extending equal rights to homosexuals is the work of the devil and that gay people in these parts never had it so good. But they won't tell you about Kurt Pray.
" If the Christian Coalition and the Christian Civic League expect voters to scrap what was passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature and signed enthusiastically into law by the governor, they'll have to come up with better reasons than they have so far. At the very least, they need to get their story straight."
Voters shouldn't be apathetic about safeguarding the rights of homosexual people.
It's Friday night at Maine Ballroom Dance. The dancers swinging around the room in same-sex couples are gay. Ever since she opened for business, Mandy Ball has offered classes for gay people who want to dance with same-sex partners.
The US Supreme court said it will hear an appeal by Bangor dentist Randon Bragdon. A lower court said he violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act when he told Sidney Abbott he would only fill her cavity at a hospital. The court is using the dispute to clarify protections against bias for people with the AIDS virus.
Gov. Angus King on Wednesday proclaimed February 10 as the date of a statewide referendum on Maine's gay rights law.
Supporters of Maine's gay rights law say they will probably decide my midweek whether to ask the state supreme court to stop a referendum from being held on the suspended law.
...So he told his dorm mates the truth: For his first 17 years, he'd been Alice Myers, a tomboy from Paris, Maine who kept her hair short and loathed dresses but was, nonetheless, a girl. Just before her senior year at Exeter, however, Alice figured it out: Despite her female body, she felt like a man, a state known as being "transgendered."
Maine's new gay-rights law appears headed for a referendum after a judge indicated Friday he will uphold the validity of petitions collected by groups seeking to repeal the law. Cumberland County Superior Court Justice Roland Cole put off a final judgment pending a hearing Monday on issues in the case that remain unresolved.
A ruling is expected by week's end from a Superior Court judge who heard oral arguments in a lawsuit filed by defenders of Maine's gay rights law. The plaintiffs are challenging the validity of thousands of petition signatures filed by opponents who want to repeal the measure.
The Christian Civic League of Maine can join the state in defending an upcoming referendum on gay rights, a judge ruled Monday.
The lawsuit alleges the student made an explicit threat of violence on the campus computer network based upon bias toward gays and lesbians. (The Maine A-G's office issued this press release)
"I don't think for a moment he's going to base his stand on thisreferendum on how it's going to fly" with voters... "It's about doing the right thing, and I expect Angus as chief executive officer of this state to play and take a strong role."
Gay-rights advocates challenged an impending anti-gay-rights referendum Monday by filing a lawsuit claiming that petitions calling for the vote were fatally flawed.
Students and some faculty members staged a sit-in demonstration at Bates College Friday morning to drum up support for a contract to eradicate homophobia at the school
Mike Heath, the executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, knows a little about playing the rope-a-dope game. He snookered the Maine press corps into declaring a premature victory dance on the gay rights law.
Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky said today opponents of a law protecting homosexuals from discrimination have collected enough signatures to let Maine voters decide whether to veto the law. He said sponsors of a so-called ''people's veto'' collected about 7,000 more than the number they needed to schedule a statewide referendum.
An exchange of letters regarding repeal of the Maine Gay Rights Bill between Michael Heath and the Chair of the Maine Democratic Committee, Christopher Hall. Polite to the extreme but brimming with salient points.
Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky will announce Oct. 20 whether organizers of the ''peoples' veto'' gathered the 51,131 petition signatures required to hold the referendum giving voters an opportunity to veto gay rights legislation approved last spring by the Legislature and the governor.
The Portland diocese's response in the context of the 'people's veto' is also thoughtful and appropriate.
STEVE MEYERS CARTOON
Portland Press Herald - Sunday October 5, 1997
"What do you mean I can't discriminate because of your personal faith? Ain't that what you call them 'special rights"?
A spokesman for the diocese, acknowledged that the church's distinction between accepting a homosexual orientation and disapproving of homosexual sex is hard for the public to grasp. ''The distinction is critically important to the church, but nobody else,'' he said. ''To expect a person who is homosexual not to act on that sexuality is absurd to some people.''
"Now that gay rights appears headed for a referendum, it already may be too late to urge both sides to keep the coming debate civil, to stick to the facts."
Also the political cartoon appearing on the editorial page
Political experts say they expect a campaign similar to the last anti-gay rights initiative, with victory going to the side that is best organized, best able to get core supporters to the polls, and best able to frame the debate in a way that sways undecided voters to their side.
"Supporting the 'people's veto' goes beyond the tenet that homosexuality is a sin. The veto implies that condemning homosexuals as sinners isn't enough - society also must be allowed to discriminate against them, punish them for theirsexual orientation."
Two Maine political analysts agree that voters will be tugged from one argument to the other in what may be a fierce and, perhaps, nasty campaign over the state's suspended "gay rights" legislation.
Four months after Maine's gay-rights law was signed by the governor, two Christian groups announce they have enough petition signatures to force a statewide referendum aimed at rescinding the new law.
Saying they overcame great odds to reach their goal, gay rights opponents announced today they gathered more than enough signatures needed to force a referendum on the new law barring discrimination against homosexuals. "It's a miracle of God,'' said Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine.
"...He wants all of us to know that there are many like him and the kid from Augusta. Kids who hear the word ''dyke'' or ''fag'' and run because to stick around is to have your head kicked in. Kids who cower because to fight back is to prolong the torture."
The only way to combat such prejudice is for society to send clear messages about tolerance and acceptance. Sexual orientation is not a reason to hate, scorn or reject any individual. (Response to the preceding (9/12/97) news story)
Augusta police charged four boys Tuesday night with assault after they allegeclly taunted and spit at a 15-year-old Cony High School student they believed to be gay.
Leaders of Outright are charging that a man assaulted as many as seven Portland young people during a conference held at the University of Maine at Farmington last month.
George W. Friou's was the unanimous choice of a committee that reviewed 40 applicants for a job that opened in March,when Stephen T. Moskey resigned.
(Rick MacPherson's final column)
Rick MacPherson is leaving Casco Bay Weekly and Maine. But not without one last assessment of the community that could not bring itself to embrace him as its print spokeman.
"Next time a petition is shoved under your nose, whether the person is wearing a little button marked "Christian" or not, read it very carefully before you sign."
More than l00 men and women, members of Maine's gay, lesbian and transgender community took in a bit of history at this year's second annual Gay Times Festival at College of the Atlantic. Featured speakers were Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.
Veto organizers had set today as their deadline for collecting 60,000 signatures. But by mid-week, their signatures totaled only 10,000.
According to the attorney general's complaint, the victim was walking down Coffin Street in Howland when Colbeth allegedly ran across the street and grabbed him. Colbeth then reportedly spun the man around and hit him with a closed fist several times in the head, chest and shoulders. While he was hitting the man, Colbeth yelled ''faggot'' and ''queer.''
The complaint alleges that Bray drove immediately in front of the victims' car for several miles, slamming on his brakes and causing the victims to stop suddenly. At one point Bray reportedly came to a complete and sudden stop in front of the victims' vehicle and, with the assistance of another pickup truck, blocked the victims' passage on the turnpike.
A majority of Mainers say they would vote to keep the state's gay rights law on the books.
A key leader in the drive to force a people's veto of Maine's new so-called "gay rights" law admitted Friday he doesn't think the campaign will succeed.
Dale McCormack, the openly Gay treasurer of the state of Maine, and others who attended the meeting said Clinton reiterated his support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). They said the president also promised to consider a request by the Gay leaders that he build on his support for Gay issues in his first term by speaking out in public forums on a host of issues such as ENDA, anti-Gay hate crimes, and discrimination against Gay youth in the nation's schools.
State Treasurer Dale McCormick was one of only 11 gay and lesbian leaders nationally to get the word personally from President Clinton: He'll push this year for a national law that will make it illegal to deny employment to gays and lesbians.
Two volunteers spent last Friday (July 11th) afternoon outside Shaw's Supermarket in the Falmouth Shopping Center, soliciting support for a petition to send the state legislature's recent extension of civil rights to homosexuals to referendum in November. They got about 20 signatures.
Bill Nemitz on Michael Heath's rhetoric: " So much for a ''positive'' campaign. And, for those who blindly embraced his angelic promises to keep it clean and avoid inflammatory attacks, so much for Heath's credibility."
Spirits were high Saturday morning as the parade came together on Exchange Street. There was a strong theme of rainbow colors, with balloons and streamers. Downtown Bangor was characteristically sleepy at noontime as the train of gay pride supporters got rolling. Some drivers stopped along Main Street, blowing their horns, whooping and hollering in unison with the paraders, and giving them the thumbs up.
In this editorial The Maine Sunday Telegram urges citizens "Don't Sign On"
Despite promises to keep the debate civil, phrases like ''moral gutter'' and ''Sodom and Gomorrah'' are used to build support for an effort to repeal the law in the July newsletter of the Christian Civic League of Maine.
The editors of The Forecaster - serving Falmouth, Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Freeport - urge their readers "Don't Sign On"
"Ron Carbonneau wept when he gazed down at Jay A. Mills' panel in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. As the tears rolled down his cheeks, he tried to smile. Carbonneau and a group of his friends designed the square for Mills after he died of AIDS in1990..."
Discrimination, public ridicule and the loss of freedoms were among themes at the First Baptist Church of Cherryfield on June 29. But those in danger of suffering such treatment, according to the sermon, are neither blacks, women, homosexuals nor ethnic minorities -- but fundamentalist Christians.
Two anti-gay-rights groups, the Christian Coalition of Maine and the Christian Civic League of Maine, officially kicked off a campaign to gather enough signatures to halt a bill prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals.
Portland's first openly gay bar opened for business 30 years ago. A lot has changed since then.
Four letters in responses to the Press Herald's June 19 editorial calling for a "respectful" campaign.
Hate is alive and well in Northern Maine. Witness these tee shirts ordered by Bry Daigle, owner of Bry's Quick Stop in Madawaska, Maine.
The Press Herald buys into the rhetoric: "While overturning a fair and good law is itself negative, the Christian Civic League of Maine has pledged a positive campaign. The pledge is commendable and heartening..."See also:
VOICE OF THE PEOPLE --Three responses published Tuesday July 1, 1997
During the past two years, Esduardo Mariscal has shaken up Portland modern dance with his bold images, wild costumes and absurd humor. In a small dance scene that often has been dominated by cerebral works that favor an austere beauty, Mariscal's dances are like a welcome, dizzying trip to an amusement park.
All will benefit from banning job discrimination against homosexual people. (On the re-introduction of ENDA in Washington)
The Christian Coalition of Maine and the Christian Civic League of Maine said Friday that they have more than 700 volunteers ready to circulate petitions calling for a statewide vote to repeal the bill protecting homosexuals from certain forms of discrimination. They consider 1,000 the minimum needed to wage a successful campaign.
The Christian Civic League of Maine decided Friday to go ahead with its campaign to repeal a bill protecting homosexuals from certain forms of discrimination.
The most influential people in Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities.
Ron Dubois of Westbrook put in four hours at the polls on election day, hoping to get local voters to join the Christian Civic League of Maine's campaign against Maine's new gay rights law. He got about 22
It's tempting to dismiss Heath's proposed referendum - grounded in the belief that homosexuality is a sin and thus should not be protected by law. But this is different - and potentially much more dangerous.
During Saturday's gala the state's gay rights advocates celebrated finally having won equality in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations - rights they said most Mainers have taken for granted.
It's the first study of its kind in the United States, according to researchers at the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education in Bangor. But it's one of several new research projects involving lesbians' health and their access to health care that will be conducted in Maine this summer.
Michael Heath, the Maine Christian Civic League's executive director, gave King a letter calling the law ''morally offensive to hundreds of thousands of Mainers and potentially costly to some of our citizens.''
The Ellsworth American, the main weekly newspaper for Hancock County, has had a history of stands on GLBT rights which has gradually moved from hostile to neutral to mildly supportive. But here is an editorial of theirs this week:
All but one Midcoast legislator voted for the so-called gay rights bill last week. Only Rep. Robert Spear, R-Nobleboro, of the area delegation voted against the measure.