'The people of Maine are now one gigantic step closer to equality,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign lauded yesterday's passage of an amendment to Maine's Human Rights Act that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, educational opportunity, credit and public accommodations. Gov. John Baldacci proposed the legislation.
"The people of Maine are now one gigantic step closer to equality," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "We laud the legislators, and especially Governor Baldacci, for pushing this important measure forward. Equality Maine has worked year in and year out to make the state's law inclusive, and we congratulate them for this huge success."
Maine becomes the sixth state, plus the District of Columbia, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Those states are: California, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island. (See map.)
The non-discrimination measure passed in the House by a 91-58 vote and in the Senate by a 25-10 vote. An amendment that would have then put the civil rights of Maine's citizens up for a referendum vote failed in both the House, by a 76-74 vote, and Senate, by a 22-13 vote. However, it's likely that opponents to the equal rights law will make other attempts to initiate a referendum.
"We're proud the House and Senate both cast strong, bipartisan votes in favor of ending discrimination against all citizens of Maine," said Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine.
The governor is expected to sign the bill today.
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