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On February 20 the Maine House rejected a Republican-sponsored bill that would have allowed anti-gay discrimination in the state under the claim of remaining sincere to one’s religious beliefs. Instead, the proposed bill reached its end (at least for now) with a count of 89-52.
The proposed legislation, LD1428, “would carve out an exception for religious beliefs in the state’s non-discrimination laws, such as the Maine’s Human Rights Act,” said Maine’s Speaker of the House, Mark Eves, in a published statement. Eves added that it “would undercut human rights protections and women’s rights by creating a loophole in the state’s strong non-discrimination laws.” The House’s denial of the bill follows a week behind a similar decision in the Senate.
So that’s Idaho, Kansas, Maine, South Dakota, and Tennessee all shot down. Only Arizona seems to be pressing ahead at this time. And of course, they’re trying to get something similar on the ballot in Oregon.
The Washington Blade reports:
Maine’s highest state court ruled on Thursday that schools within the state must permit transgender students to use communal bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity. In a 5-1 decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the case of Doe v. Clenchy that Regional School Unit 26 violated the Maine’s Human Rights Act by denying Nicole Maines, a transgender girl, access to the girl’s restroom. It’s the first time a state court has ruled that trans students must be allowed to use a bathroom consistent with their gender identity.
It’s about time. Kudos to these kids for having the guts to stand up for themselves and fight for this.
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LGBTQ Nation reports:
Steven Bridges and Michael Snell thought they knew what they were getting into a year ago when they went to City Hall to get married. But they didn’t realize that they were about to become instant celebrities.
Joining Snell’s daughters as witnesses were several dozen news reporters and photographers as they became the first same-sex couple to get married shortly after midnight on Dec. 29 at Portland City Hall. Photos of their wedding in the clerk’s office made their way from Maine to California. “We thought it was truly going to be a low-key night with Michael’s daughters,” Bridges said. “It didn’t turn out that way.”
More than 1,500 same-sex couples followed them in the year since it became legal for gay couples to wed in Maine, which along with Maryland and Washington states became the first to approve gay marriage by popular vote on Nov. 6, 2012.
It will be interesting to see in all these recent states how many couples marry each year once things settle down to normal.
On Top Magazine reports:
A year after Maine legalized gay marriage, 87 percent of Maine voters say it has had either a positive or no impact on their lives. According to a Public Policy Polling survey of 964 registered Maine voters released on Wednesday, 72 percent of respondents said that the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine has had no impact at all on their lives, 15 percent said it has had a positive impact, and 13 percent said it has had a negative impact. A majority (54%) of respondents agreed that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry, while 37 percent remain opposed.
But what’s also amazing to me is that 33% of those people who say marriage equality has had actually no impact on them are still opposed to it. Why do they care? And what’s it going to take to convince them that allowing same-sex couples to marry will not hurt them in the least?
Pink News reports:
Former President George H Bush and his wife, Barbara, have served as two of the official witnesses at a same-sex marriage ceremony of two long standing friends. The weekend wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen took place in Maine. Ms Clement told the Washington Post: “This is such a wonderful time for change in our legal system. Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal’.”
So now we’ve got the really old Republicans and the really young ones on our side – how do we get everyone in the middle?
A new poll indicates that Mainers’ acceptance of same-sex marriage has increased significantly since the November vote, but an opponent cautions against making too much of numbers from Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling. In November, with just 47 percent of voters opposing the referendum to legalize gay marriage, the law was passed at the polls. The Public Policy Polling poll — released in late August — shows that opposition to gay marriage has declined to 38 percent since then.
From the survey:
80% of respondents said the legalization of same-sex marriage has had a positive or no impact on their lives so far. 32% of people who described their race as “other” and 29% of 18-29-year-olds said same-sex marriage has negatively impacted them.
Just as we’ve always said.
Now that the battle for marriage equality n Maine has been won, the state’s advocacy group is shifting focus. The Kennebec Journal reports:
The Portland-based advocacy group, EqualityMaine, released a five-year strategic plan recently to outline its overarching goals through 2018, focused on building and educating communities about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and issues statewide. It’s the group’s first major step forward since November, when nearly 53 percent of Maine voters backed same-sex marriage.
If successful, the move will solidify support for the new law, making it less likely to be repealed at a future date.
The Maine Supreme Court finally weighed in on the National Organization for Marriage’s attempts to hide their donors in the state. The Sun Journal reports:
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday upheld a lower court’s ruling that the National Organization for Marriage and its allies cannot shield the names of donors to a 2009 campaign against same-sex marriage from the state’s election oversight commission. In affirming an earlier Kennebec County Superior Court’s decision, justices on the Supreme Judicial Court rejected NOM’s arguments that subpoenas issued by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices violate donors’ First Amendment rights and expose them to “threats, harassment and reprisal.”
Anyone wanna take odds on whether NOM will continue to defy the courts in Maine on this issue?